Category Archives: Statistics

PMean: Still alive, but blogging is on hold

Someone noticed that I have not been posting recently. It’s not because I’m dead or ill or anything like that. I am migrating my blog and website to a markdown format. This is a fairly minimalist approach, but I’m hoping that it will make my site easier to maintain. Unfortunately, my work at UMKC got very busy right in the middle of the transition, so it might be a while before things get fully migrated. In the meantime, please be patient.

PMean: Writing the methods section of a research paper

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

Recommended: What would Florence Nightingale make of big data?

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

PMean: Writing the introduction section of a research thesis or dissertation

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

PMean: Slapping the word “pilot” on a failed study

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).

  1. Analyze the study as originally planned, including a classic test of hypothesis for the primary outcome.
  2. Call this a pilot study and provide descriptive analyses only.
  3. Recognize that the data is so fatally flawed that any analysis of the data would be inappropriate.

This is what I suggested. Continue reading

Another short biography

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