Case study 3

Experiments and observational studies


We explored experiments and observational studies in Chapter 8 and reviewed several real-world examples.

A: Which mode of study are you more comfortable with using? Explain your answer.

In Chapter 13, we reviewed several important steps to help create achievable and interesting research questions.

1. What is the problem or issue being addresses? Every good research project aims to investigate an existing problem.

2. Who cares about this problem and why?

3. What have others done?

4. What research questions could help to answer the problem identified?

5. What techniques and methods could be used, to help answer the research questions?

B: Select one topic from Exercise 3 and answer the above questions. Choose a topic you find interesting, or perhaps have some experience with.

Towards the end of Chapter 13, a checklist is given to help you build your confidence with statistical literacy.

  1. Statistical methods should enable the use of data to answer scientific questions: Ask ‘why am I doing this?’, rather than focusing on which technique to use.
  2. You can never eliminate chance as a factor when making conclusions, especially with experiment-to-causation inferences.
  3. Worry about data quality, and interrogate the methods used to collect them (if this is possible), as well as potential biases. Everything rests on the data.
  4. Statistical analysis is more than a set of computations. Do not just blindly plug numbers into formula or run procedures in software.
  5. Keep it clear and concise. The main communication from a statistical analysis should be as clear as possible. It should also weave nicely into a data story, or report.
  6. Check the assumptions underlying any analyses you carry out. Make clear any reservations you may have as to whether these have been satisfied. Make your analysis reproducible by allowing the data you have used to be freely available and accessible. Others should be able to access your data to help them interpret your data displays and data stories.

C: Which one of the points in the checklist above are you most worried or anxious about? If there is a particular point that worries you the most, think about why this is. What can you do to overcome your concerns with this?