Frequently Asked Questions
When you contribute to State of K, you should follow two principles: seek the truth and treat human beings with dignity. These principles are of equal importance.
Seek the truth
Don't try to promote a particular conclusion or ideology. If you ask a question and do not find studies that lead to a conclusion you desire, don't manipulate the list in the hopes you can promote your viewpoint. In the same vein, don't edit someone else's list so the answer matches your opinion. If you remain skeptical after building/editing a list, explore your skepticism by building a list for a related question. See below on "related questions to consider". Attempting to manipulate lists is also a waste of time as the platform is designed to correct this kind of nonsense.
Treat human beings with dignity
Don't ask questions in a manner that encourages dislike or disrespect toward human beings. For example, in a question about immigration laws, refer to "undocumented immigrants" rather than "illegal immigrants" or "illegals" because the latter terms are dehumanizing. Make an effort to ask your question in a way that respects humanity.
Avoid broad questions. Ask several narrow questions instead.
We often want to answer a broad question such as: "do soda taxes work?" or "should I support or oppose soda taxes?". The best way to answer these questions is to build lists for several, more specific questions that each examine a single consideration in making your decision.
Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between studies that directly address your question and studies that are just on the same general topic. Obviously, the title of the study is your first clue, but most of the time you'll need to check the abstract to really know.
If you have access to the full text, skim that as well. A study that, judging from its title, seems like it's answering only a broad question from (e.g. "How Voter ID Laws Reduce Voter Turnout") may in fact have tested other, more specific questions (e.g. do voter ID laws reduce turnout among racial minorities or among low-income voters). If you were gathering studies for a question like "do voter ID laws reduce turnout among disadvantaged groups?", that study would be relevent, even though it wouldn't seem so from reading just its title.
Of course, we understand that the full text isn't often freely available, but we strongly encourage you to read the abstract of a study, which is almost always available either directly on State of K or via a link.
- Sense & sensibility: Decision-making and sources of information in mothers who decline HPV vaccination of their adolescent daughters
- To Vaccinate or Not?: Parents’ Stories
- HPV Vaccine for Sons: Do Parents Who Also Have Daughters Think Differently?
- How parents make decisions about their children's vaccinations
- "Is cancer contagious?": Australian adolescent girls and their parents: making the most of limited information about HPV and HPV vaccination.
The best way to answer your question is to gather all of the studies that directly examine your question. But how do you know that you have gathered all the relevant studies? The short answer is: you won't. But here are some helpful rules of thumb.
- For each search query you use, add all relevant studies until you see two pages of results without any relevant studies.
- Enter different search queries. For example, try "soda taxes consumption" first. As you read study titles/abstracts, you may discover other relevant terms you can use as queries such as "sugar-sweetened beverage tax". Keep brainstorming new terms.
- Once you think you have found all relevant studies, check the recommended studies, which are generated based on the studies in your list, and add any relevant recommendations.
Each study in a list for a question that can be answered "yes or no", can be assigned one of 6 labels. These labels are: "yes", "no", "mixed results", "insufficient evidence", "could not identify" and "no data".
The label assigned to a study represents the answer that that specific study gave to a question. For example, if one study found that soda taxes do reduce soda consumption, it would receive a "yes" label, while a study that found that soda taxes did not reduce soda consumption would receive a "no" label.
The label "mixed results" means that a study found some evidence to indicate that the answer to the question is "yes" and some evidence to indicate that the answer is "no". This label is often applied when a study uses two or more proxies to study the same phenomenon (e.g. firearm sales figures and self-reported firearm ownership rates as proxies for the prevalence of firearms) and the proxies yield different results when looking for correlations with another phenomenon (e.g. firearm-related deaths). Alternatively, the label may be applied if the phenomenon under study (e.g. whether breast milk improves cognitive function) is true for one group, but not another (e.g. true for girls, but not for boys).
The label "insufficient evidence" means that a study found there was insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion regarding the question.
The label "couldn't identify" means that State of K wasn't able to identify the study's response to the question based on the information that was available. This label is often applied when the person creating the list adds a study that seems like it directly examines the question, but it isn't clear from the title or abstract how the study answers the question and the full text of the study isn't accessible.
The label "no data" means that no one has entered a label yet.
Another set of labels that studies can get are: literature review and highly regarded source. These labels are assigned regardless of whether the question that the study examines is a yes-or-no question.
On the home page and when you search for questions, you'll see results in the following format:
All labels of "highly regarded source" are assigned by State of K. As applied to journals, the label is assigned to the top 20 journals (as measured by the h-index) in various subcategories as classified and reported by Google Scholar. As applied to NGOs, the label is assigned to US NGOs ranked by the TTCSP Global Go To Think Tank Index Reports.
Note that the information contained in a source that is labelled "highly regarded" is not necessarily more accurate than information contained in a source without that label.
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