Results of a study are disseminated in many forms. The highest level of communicating results is often in a peer-reviewed professional journal. Peer-reviewed refers to a group of professionals in a particular field who read all submissions and publish only those that meet the highest degree of scrutiny and applicability. When errors are found in the sampling of subjects, the statistical analysis, or the inferences made, the study will often be rejected or returned to the author for revisions. Published articles in peer-reviewed journals would likely be the best source for research when you begin looking into your theory.
Results of research studies are also disseminated through textbooks, book chapters, conferences, presentations, and newsletters. For example, a study comparing the average salary in a particular county might be published in the local newspaper or in a brochure for the chamber of commerce. Our study of non-traditional students and work experience might be summarized in a board meeting of the college’s department of student retention or published in a trade journal such as the “Journal of Higher Education.”
Some studies are never released, especially if the results do not add to the already available research. Other studies are meant only to provide direction for larger studies. Our study of college students may be used only to determine if a larger study is likely to result in important findings. If we get significant results then a larger study, including a broader subject pool, may then be conducted. These types of studies are often called pilot studies because the goal is not to gather knowledge about the population, but rather to guide further research in a particular area.