Research Series: We like science here on The George Center Blog. We love talking about music therapy research, and for good reason. Music therapy is a field that's based in evidence-based research, meaning that the techniques we use are supported by scientific experiments conducted by music therapists and other researchers throughout the world. Maintaining this level of research is not easy or cheap, but as a field it's vital we maintain this dedication to evidence-based interventions. Otherwise, we cannot ethically say that what we do...works.
As a result of this dedication, music therapy students get a heavy dose of research courses in both undergrad and graduate programs. But all this research talk comes with a lot of jargon that can get confusing. Let's detangle some of this research jargon! Here's part 2 of our series on research terminology, "peer-reviewed."
What does "peer-reviewed" mean?
Welcome to part 2 of our research series! Today we're talking about the term "peer-reviewed." You might hear this term when we discuss various science publications, such as the Journal of Music Therapy. So what does that mean? And what's the big deal with peer review anyway?
It should come as no surprise to you that not everything you read on the internet is true. Anyone can be a publisher now, and you can distribute any kind of information you want to large audiences with no oversight. Heck, I could go around proclaiming that music therapy cures all known diseases, and no one can stop me. So much of what we read is "reader beware."
Side note: I promise to only publish truthfully things on this blog. I do my homework, I promise.
So what is the "gold standard" of publishing that we can stand by and assure that the information we publish is accurate?
That, dear readers, would be peer review.
Peer review is exactly what it sounds like: having others in your field review your work. In the case of scientific research, we refer to journals that use this method as "peer-reviewed journals."
In order for a research study to be published in a peer-reviewed journal (Such as the Journal of Music Therapy or Music Therapy Perspectives), it must go through a review process in which anonymous members of the editorial board and invited external reviews read the study (not knowing who wrote it, where they went to school, or any kind of identifying information) and pick apart the study to see if there's any reason to believe that the results were skewed. Perhaps an error in their process contaminated results. Additionally, the study process must be so thoroughly detailed that anyone should be able to replicate it and see similar results.
If it makes the grade, the study gets published! And since this study was reviewed by multiple professionals in the field, we can be assured that the results are reliable and replicable.
Without peer-review, we'd essentially have nothing more than press releases written by music therapists. There'd be no way of knowing for sure if their experiment truly worked, without bias.
Hope this post makes the cut...
We've got a whole team of bright music therapists who love to do nothing more than read research and apply it to their practice! Why not come in and meet us sometime?