I’m teaching a class on Clinical Research Methodology and at least a few of the students are confused about what to put in the methods section of a research paper or a thesis. They’re confused? I’m even more confused than they are. Every paper and every thesis is different, so it is impossible to offer any coherent guidance. But let me try anyway. Continue reading
This is a nice video, professionally produced and very short (4 minutes) that shows the importance Florence Nightingale attached to Statistics. It reviews how she used Statistics aggressively to lobby for improvements to health care, and speculates on what she would think about the efforts today to use big data for decision making. The narrator is David Spiegelhalter, a famous statistician. Continue reading
This is a very nice summary of six major areas where data mining has led to serious ethical concerns. Continue reading
The introduction section of your research thesis or dissertation is the first thing that most people will read after reading the abstract. Some people use the introduction section to provide a literature review, and I won’t talk about that here. I did offer a nice recommendation on how to write a literature review in an earlier post. The introduction should provide present your research problem (research question, research hypothesis), but first you have to offer some context. Continue reading
Someone was asking on the MedStats listserv about a study that had gone off the rails. They had recruited only about a third of the patients that they had wanted. Things were going pretty well in the first arm of the study, but the second arm had a dropout rate of 50%.
Anyway, they decided to end the study (good call!) and wanted to know what they should do with the data that they had already collected. There were three options that they were considering (I’m paraphrasing a bit here).
- Analyze the study as originally planned, including a classic test of hypothesis for the primary outcome.
- Call this a pilot study and provide descriptive analyses only.
- Recognize that the data is so fatally flawed that any analysis of the data would be inappropriate.
This is what I suggested. Continue reading
I dated a piano major in college and I tried, with very limited success, to learn how to play the piano myself. She told me, “If you’re going to make a mistake, make a loud mistake.” You don’t want to play the piano nervously and hesitantly. The same is true in research. Continue reading
I am contributing a chapter to a book (proposed title: Randomized controlled trials in medical research – gold standard or unhealthy fixation) and the book editor wanted a brief biography that emphasized “any relevant teaching experience within Medicine or allied health sciences.” So I adapted an earlier short biography to put in some of my teaching experience. Here it is. Continue reading
When you take a text file from one system and use it in a different system, some of the more “exotic” characters can change on you. An example are the “smart quotes” in Microsoft Word. Here’s a brief explanation of why they occur and what you can do about it. Continue reading
Several years ago, I was part of panel presentation at the Joint Statistical Meetings. My talk was on how to teach Statistics from an evidence-based perspective. A question came up from the audience about the quality of medical research, and there’s a lot of cynicism in the Statistics community about this. Each comment from the audience seemed to get more negative and I stepped in to offer a counter argument. The research process has a lot of flaws, but we have made a ton of progress in how we provide medical care thanks to the careful and rigorously designed studies that have been done. I didn’t convince anyone, but it felt good to stand up for something I strongly believe in. Recently, I had to look for examples of research that has changed clinical practice for the better, and found several interesting articles. Continue reading
I got an inquiry by email asking if it was okay to cite one of my web pages. Here’s what I said, more or less. Continue reading