2. Is there evidence supportive of more than one conclusion?

In an ideal scenario, you will have a number of good quality sources of evidence that point to a single conclusion. Of course, in the real world, this is often not the case. Sometimes you will find, particularly in an area where little structured study has been undertaken, that the evidence can point to more than one conclusion or that sources of evidence point to conflicting conclusions. It is important to consider what you would do in this situation.

When you have conflicting evidence, it is useful to consider these questions:

  • Are the sources reliable? (See the Assess step)
  • Are the sources equally trustworthy?
  • Are the methods used in the sources equally robust?
  • Can the conflict be accounted for by differences in: population studied (e.g size, characteristics, location) or methods used (e.g case study, survey, interview)?
  • Is the conflict 'real' or due to interpretation or presentations of the results?
  • Are the results truely in conflict or can the conclusions of the evidence co-exist?
  • Is there more evidence for one conclusion than another?
  • Is further evidence available that you have not already looked at that might lend weight to one conclusion or another?
  • If it’s a new area of study, do you believe there is enough evidence overall for any conclusion?