How To Read a Research Paper

What is the difference between a case study research paper and a hypothesis testing research paper?

A case study is a paper that gathers data on individuals for the purpose of documenting noteworthy phenomena. An example of a case study is where a group of people come down with a common illness and a scientist/doctor gathers data on these individuals to learn the pattern of exposure, understand their medical history, and understand anything they can in order to form a hypothesis as to why they all came ill.

A hypothesis testing study formulates a hypothesis, ideally based on a case study, and tests the hypothesis on various groups of individuals that share relevant things in common (called controls, or control variables), such as a common illness they contracted and how they contracted it. The study then tests the hypothesis by statistically comparing one of these groups that has some characteristic, such as having taking a medication, against another group group that has either taken no medicine or a placebo (an inert substance that is indistinguishable to the patient). This group that has taken the placebo or no medication is called the control group.

Once the relevant outcomes of the experiment are measured, the study uses a statistical test to determine if there is a detectable difference in the measured outcome between the two groups. This is called statistical significance. Statistical significance merely tells you if the measured difference occurred by random chance or if there is a genuine distinction between them. It doesn't not suggest anything about the magnitude of the difference, only if the two sets of observations are distinguishable or not distinguishable from each other.

More to come!