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HANDOUT # 1 - INTRODUCTION TO STATISTICS TOPICS 1. Definiton of Statistics 2. Statistics and the Scientific Method 3. Research Process 4. Why Study Statistics? 5. Some Current Applications of Statistics 6. Preparation of Data 7. Guidelines for a Statistical Analysis and Report 8. Examples of Studies/Experiments Some of material in Handout 1 is from An Introduction to Statistical Methods and Data Analysis, 6th Ed. by R. Lyman Ott and Michael Longnecker. 1
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Statistics and the Scientific Method Statistics is the science of designing studies or experiments, collecting data, and modeling/analyzing data for the purpose of decision-making and scientific discovery when the available information is both limited and variable. That is, statistics is the science of Learning from Data . A description of the early impact of statistics on solving problems in science can be found in the book, The Lady Tasting Tea, How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century by David Salsburg. A second book, The Theory That Would Not Die by Sharon Betsch McGrayne discusses the major impact that Bayesian Analysis had on solving problems in industry, government, military, and science. Almost everyone-including corporate presidents, marketing representatives, social scientists, engineers, medical researchers, and consumers- deals with data. These data could be in the form of quarterly sales figures, percent increase in juvenile creme, contamination levels in water samples, survival rates for patients undergoing medical therapy, census figures, failure rates of newly modified production equipment, or information that assists a consumer in selecting which brand of car to purchase. In this course, we will approach the study of statistics by considering a process by which we Learn from Data: 1. Defining the problem 2. Collecting the data 3. Summarizing the data 4. Analyzing/modeling the data 5. Interpreting the analyses/models 6. Communicating the results obtained from the analyses/models The Learn from Data process described above closely parallels the Scientific Method, which is a set of principles and procedures used by successful scientists in their pursuit of knowledge. The method involves the formulation of research goals, the modeling/analyzing of the data in the context of research goeal, and the testing of hypotheses. The conclusions of these steps is often the formulation of new research goals for another study. These steps are illustrated in the schematic given on the next page. The design of experiments, collection of data, and analysis of data are integral components of the Scientific Method . Researchers use the results of studies and experiments to examine the validity of existing theories, to revise these theories, and eventually to formulate new theories.
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