Making Sense of Statistics in Research

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Alert! Alert! 
Because NICHCY’s website will only remain online until September 30, 2014, most of its rich content has moved to a new home, the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR), where it can be kept up to date. 

The new address of Making Sense of Statistics in Research at the CPIR is:
http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/makingsense/

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Updated April 2013

Author
Dr. Barbara Smith
Research Analyst, NICHCY
Approx. 5 pages when printed

When you read a research article, you’re likely to run across descriptions of how the researchers analyzed the data they collected. There may be many terms about their statistical methods that leave you wondering, huh? In order to understand what the authors are trying to say, you need to understand their lingo. This Research Basic can help you do just that.

Below are links to resources that will help you understand more about the statistical tests and terms mentioned in research documents. These resources run the gamut of complexity–you’ll find everything from an entire online introductory statistics course to glossaries defining individual statistical terms. Hopefully, these resources will be helpful in illuminating your reading of research.

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Probability & Statistics for the Average Person

What are “statistics” anyway?
http://paleo.cortland.edu/class/stats/documents/01_Introduction.pdf

What is “probability” anyway?
From Life 123.
http://www.life123.com/parenting/education/probability-statistics/what-is-probability.shtml

The 12 essential concepts of statistics and why to use them.
http://www.graphpad.com/guides/prism/6/statistics/index.htm?stat_the_essential_concepts_of_stat.htm

Want an indepth intro to probability?
Here’s the full-text of the book Introduction to Probability.

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/teaching_aids/books_articles/probability_book/book.html

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Statistical Inference Defined

According to the encyclopedia.
http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Inferential_statistics.aspx#2-1O88:statisticalinference-full

From the Research Knowledge Database, Cornell.
www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/statinf.htm

Overview of descriptive and inferential methods.
http://infinity.cos.edu/faculty/woodbury/stats/tutorial/Data_Descr_Infer.htm

So how come a survey of 1,600 people can tell me what 250 million are thinking?
http://www.robertniles.com/stats/margin.shtml

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Introduction to “Stats” in Plain Language

Little handbook of statistical practice.
A step-by step tutorial from Tufts.
http://www.tufts.edu/~gdallal/LHSP.HTM

Those scary statistics.
From Craig Hospital in Colorado.
http://tinyurl.com/c2aqv2s

Statistics every writer should know.
From journalist Robert Niles.
www.robertniles.com/stats/

How to read a paper: Statistics for the non-statistician.
I: Different types of data need different statistical tests.
From the British Medical Journal.
http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/315/7104/364

How to read a paper: Statistics for the non-statistician.
II: “Significant” relations and their pitfalls.
From the British Medical Journal.
http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/315/7105/422

Pitfalls of data analysis (or how to avoid lies and damned lies).
From material covered in a workshop at the Third International Applied Statistics in Industry Conference in Dallas, TX, June 5-7, 1995.
http://my.execpc.com/~helberg/pitfalls/

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Are You a Visual Learner?

Against all odds: Inside statistics.
This links to a video series from the Annenberg/CPB projects consisting of 26 half-hour video programs, emphasizing how to “do” statistics.
www.learner.org/resources/series65.html?pop=yes&vodid=44107&pid=140

Lesson on the introduction to probability.
From Math Goodies.
www.mathgoodies.com/lessons/vol6/intro_probability.html

Online math manipulatives for data analysis and probabilities.
From the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, at Utah State University.
http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/category_g_3_t_5.html

BERRIES statistics page.
http://huizen.dds.nl/~berrie/

Virtual laboratories in probability and statistics.
From University of Alabama, Huntsville.
www.math.uah.edu/stat/

Demonstration of group differences.
From Rice University.
www.ruf.rice.edu/~lane/stat_sim/gdexpl.html

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Glossaries

Baffled by a word or a concept that seems like statistics or probability? Look in these glossaries. You are likely to find the definition inside one of ‘em.

From Colorado State University.
http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/research/stats/

From the University of Glasgow.
www.stats.gla.ac.uk/steps/glossary/index.html

From Berkeley.
www.stat.berkeley.edu/~stark/SticiGui/Text/gloss.htm

From University of Vermont.
http://www.uvm.edu/~dhowell/methods8/Glossary/Glossary.html

From Statistical Education through Problem Solving (STEPS)
http://www.stats.gla.ac.uk/steps/glossary/index.html

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You can use this page in combination with the other offerings in our ever-growing collection of pages designed to make sense of research. At the moment, we offer these basic introductions:

NOTICE: NICHCY is going away, but its resources are not. Find hundreds of legacy NICHCY publications, as well as our training curriculum on IDEA 2004, in the Center for Parent Information and Resources' Library at http://www.parentcenterhub.org/resources. This website will remain available until September 30, 2014. After that date, web visitors will be automatically redirected to http://www.parentcenterhub.org.