Tag Archives: Research design

Recommended: How to increase value and reduce waste when research priorities are set

This is the first in a series of articles on reducing waste in research. It focuses on funding agencies and recommends that funders should support more work on making research replicable, be more transparent on how they set priorities, make sure that research proposals are justified through a systematic review of previous research, and encourage greater openness of research in progress to encourage collagoration. Other articles in this series cover research design, conduct, and analysis, regulation and management, inaccessible research, and incomplete reports of research. Continue reading

Recommended: Randomized Controlled Trials in Health Insurance Systems

While researchers often use data from health insurance systems to conduct observational studies, the authors of this research paper point out that you can also conduct randomized trials as well. You can randomly assign different levels of insurance coverage and then get claims data to evaluate how much difference there is, if any, in the levels of coverage. This approach is attractive because you do not need a lot of resources, and you can very quickly get a very large sample size. Since insurance data is collected for administrative needs rather than research needs, you have to contend with inaccurate or incomplete data, potentially causing loss of statistical efficiency or producing biased results. The authors offer some interesting examples of actual studies, propose new potential studies, and offer general guidance on how to conduct a randomized trial from health insurance systems. Continue reading

Recommended: Conducting Clinical Research

This is a website associated with a very nice book on the pragmatic aspects of running a clinical trial. I came across this site because I was looking for a simple example of a letter to doctors asking them to help recruit patients for a clinical trial. This was in an appendix along with other nice examples of things like case report forms, serious adverse event forms, HIPAA consent template, etc. You can download a free PDF version of this book or you can buy a paper copy. Continue reading

Recommended: The Importance of Reproducible Research in High-Throughput Biology

I have not viewed this video yet, but have attended a similar talk and read a similar research paper by Keith Baggerly. His general message is that large biological and genetic experiments are sometimes designed so poorly as to invalidate the results. You can often discover these design flaws through a careful examination of the data sets themselves and their metadata. This process of uncovering design flaws is sometimes called “Forensic Statistics.” Continue reading

PMean: How detailed should I make my data analysis plan.

Dear Professor Mean, I could use some advice on defining and following analysis plans for research proposals. I can see how in well-trodden research, where the nuances of the data are well understood, and reasonable distributional assumptions are already identified, a detailed analysis plan may be straightforward to develop. But what about cases where you collect observational data, and though you may have specific hypotheses in mind prior to collecting it, you can’t really pin down the most appropriate analysis until after you’ve done some exploration? Is there generally an acceptable amount of leeway in cases like these, where your analysis doesn’t follow the original plan to the dot, but it’s still designed to address the same question? Or must one be as specific and detailed in the plan as possible, and consider every contingency (e.g., if the distribution is noisy, switch to this non-parametric test)? Or does it really vary with whoever the reviewer is? Continue reading