Evaluating Research


Qualifies for 15 CFP Board CEUs for a discounted $199 tuition for FPA members!
David Yeske


David Yeske

Financial Planning Evangelist

AUG 26 - OCT 28, 2018

Location: Online
Academic Units: 1
Tuition: $199



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This course is designed to help you become a better consumer of research-based literature. You will learn to better recognize research-based writing when you see it, hone your ability to critically evaluate that research, and develop policies for determining when and how to incorporate new findings into your work with clients.


  • Gain a deeper understanding of the philosophy and methodologies of science
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the history and development of the financial planning profession's body of knowledge (BOK)
  • Understand the connection between the profession's BOK, including CFP Board Practice Standards, and the concept of scientific or empirical-validation
  • Understand the relative roles of academics, practitioners, and standard-setting bodies within the financial planning profession
  • Learn to identify and evaluate research-based writing within the financial planning context
  • Learn how to apply the results of research-based writing to the daily practice of financial planning


This is a five-week, one semester unit class which also qualifies for 15 CEUs with CFP Board. Each session includes a recorded lecture, selected textbook readings, Journal of Financial Planning, and Financial Services Review readings, as well as homework assignments/exercises, and a discussion forum where you will explore questions related to the session's topic.




Evaluating Research: Methodology for People Who Need to Read Research, Francis C. Dane, 2011, Sage Publications, Thousands Oaks, California (referred to as "Evaluating Research" in session assignments).

Selected articles from the Journal of Financial Planning (referred to as "JFP" in the session assignments) and the Financial Services Review ("FSR").

Inspired by this paper: Evidence-Based Financial Planning

F/A Magazine: "Be Smart When Reading Research" by Dan Moisand (Dan describes his takeaways from the class).



"I feel like this course has given me the secret decoder ring for reading research-based articles. I've been reading journals for years as a source of ideas and validation for practices but didn't appreciate the standard approach typically used until I took this course."


"I can now appreciate the studies that have been done well, the references and styles that go hand in hand with a solid theory in place. I can still appreciate the articles that are informative or opinionated, but now see a difference behind the different methods used when reading a journal entry. It was also nice to do a bit of research using some of the different tools mentioned in order to see what would pop up when entering in a subject matter, the type of articles, the age, and style. Thank you for your insight!"


"I originally signed up for this class as a review on how to critically evaluate investment research papers. It's been a wonderful surprise to study topics that are directly relevant to financial planning and are not necessarily investment-related. Comprehensive wealth management (as opposed to just investment management) is how we run our practice so all the topics you have assigned have been very relevant and timely.

"This class has changed how I evaluate the credibility of many topics that are well beyond financial planning. Now I have some more tools to better test that cynicism with some research."


"With the abundance of media stories pushed on our profession every day, it's nice to know we have permission to ignore those in favor of an approach that has a process, and just makes more sense. Taking this class has kind of put research back on my radar screen, something I used to do a great bit more of early in my career when there really was very little published research. I now know more about sources and like the 8 Questions structure Dr. Dave showed us in thinking about and evaluating papers. The key for me is to find a way to make research reading more of a part of my week so that the JFP's don't start to stack up on my desk as they are now. But I have energy around that now, and taking the class definitely did that. Thanks for that, Dr. Dave!"


"Brief response at 33K ft: For me, everything has changed! I've discovered new paths to objective analysis, a treasure trove of searchable sources when scrutiny is the best policy, a great text that will only be better when I finish it (a new commitment), and a fond handshake with new friends and colleagues! Thank you, everyone, for a great experience made optimal by Dave at the helm and all crew on deck! My practice can now begin to SEEK OUT tight research because what we've learned over all is that Heaven, as well as Hell, is in the details."


"Being inexperienced in the profession, it is really easy to fall into the trap of taking any published work as the word of god. I know enough to find articles interesting, but I always had hesitations about challenging the findings or methods. The discussions have helped broaden my perspective, especially when everyone was addressing how they might incorporate compelling findings into their practice. I also found myself reading the papers in a more refined mindset towards as the course progressed, often rereading sections where I felt like I should be able to get information about one of the eight questions. That may have been because I knew the assignment involved needing to be able to address those questions, but I honestly believe it helped me to conceptualize the argument and identify biases or lack of science. Final note before I post again, and I'm not sure Dave will qualify this "strategy", but I noticed that I dug further into potential application or nuances the later in the week I posted because I knew I had to come up with something new... but maybe that is an anecdotal argument!"


"Prior to this class I often read research-based writing primarily from the JFP. However, I certainly did not have a systematic, logical process by which to evaluate the writings. Thanks to this class I've acquired this necessary process. I now feel more confident and willing to explore all of the great work that's out there from many sources in addition to the JFP. One of the most tangible and immediate benefits of this class was that it exposed me to a lot of great research that I would have otherwise missed if not required to read. That alone was worth the cost of admission! I look forward to leveraging all of the available research out there when addressing client questions or when pondering my own. Thank you Dr. Dave for your efforts in putting this class together and for your guidance as we moved along through it."


"This has been a fantastic experience that I wish would be lasting longer. Over our short time together, I've been exposed to great research papers and had the benefit of others thoughts and insights. I now have a structure to apply when reading and evaluating research based writing, which will provide a foundation for years to come. The course has also helped me shift to be more rigorous in thinking about how compelling the results were and consider how to implement the findings. In addition, I'm aware of the various sources to find research based writing. Thanks Dave for creating and leading this course and thanks to everyone for your thoughtful and insightful posts!"


"There are two takeaways for me.

"First, it's reignited a desire for me to push to answer some questions that could use some research. I have a couple ideas of what I could do a thesis on.

"Second, it reignited my trepidation at pursuing a graduate degree. Here is a course I am interested in, enjoy, find invigorating when I get into the material, yet organizing my time, energy, and focus to get into it was very challenging. I have a whole new respect for anyone that works full time and goes to school. Holy cow.

"The skeptic in me has been useful for many aspects of my work and now I am better equipped to channel the skepticism productively.

"Thanks Dave. It has been a lot of fun."


"Dave: My goals were definitely met in this course. Starting with how to determine if it's real scientific research or not... what questions to ask and knowing that partnering with academia is vitally important. The actual research articles were of great interest...I've already started using the safe withdrawal models with a few of my long term clients... eye opening. Finally, knowing what resources are available was very helpful."


"What we learned and reviewed in Week 1 really stuck with me, especially the textbook reading and lecture that outlined HOW to read a research article. I'm as guilty as anyone else of reading the JFP issues and stacking them on my credenza without putting much more thought into it. Now I find myself paying close attention to every paragraph, actively and critically reading the text. This has helped tremendously in breaking down concepts and determining whether what I'm putting into practice is scientifically backed or not.

"I look forward to digging back through the archives for this next assignment and using this new knowledge to evaluate future articles I read in the JFP and other sources!"


"I was not sure what to expect when I signed up except, if Dr. Dave was leading it, it should be interesting. What I received was a short, but extremely beneficial, deep dive into what it meant to review, ponder, and discuss research papers. I will never read a paper the same way and for that I am grateful. I have been bitten by the evidence-based/policy-based financial planning bug and this only serves to encourage my pursuits. A special thanks to all the participants from whom I have learned much."


"My biggest takeaway is the evaluation process for papers, both in terms of structure and content. The former, I believe, will help me more efficiently scrutinize which articles to which I want to devote time. (Dan's comment about having trouble finding the time to dedicate to this course in which I am enthusiastically interested resonates, giving pause to the idea of a CFA program.) The latter has definitely already helped me evaluate research and its applications. In short, the class is helping me go meta. Thanks Dr. Dave."