News and analysis on the global poultry
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Animal Nutrition Views

Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D., gives his views on poultry, pig and dairy nutrition based on his experience as a nutrition consultant with clients around the world.

Are we reading too much into single research reports?

June 9, 2014

My late Ph.D. professor, D.H. Baker, once told me a Ph.D. degree is license to have a qualified opinion (on your science, that is). As it proved out, it is also an opportunity to be wrong.

I was just talking to a colleague coming from the sales world of our business, and I was trying to explain how research should be considered as part of a puzzle and not as the whole picture. It reminded me of another sales colleague, who was also a pig producer, and his efforts to apply any kind of research trial that appeared to be possibly "profitable" for his farms, only to end up in utter disappointment each time.

Anyone who has attended any statistics course will attest to the fact that all published research can be reproduced with comparable results only under the exact conditions under which the trial was conducted -- something virtually impossible. And, this is why a qualified professional (here comes that Ph.D. I mentioned above) is required to consider, weigh, evaluate, discard and combine many research reports before a practical conclusion is reached.

Of course, that conclusion can be as right as it can be wrong, but at least it will be qualifiably wrong.

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