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Common Errors in Statistics (and How to Avoid Them), 3rd Edition



Common Errors in Statistics (and How to Avoid Them), 3rd Edition

Phillip I. Good, James W. Hardin

ISBN: 978-1-118-21127-4 September 2011 288 Pages

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Praise for the Second Edition

"All statistics students and teachers will find in this book a friendly and intelligentguide to . . . applied statistics in practice."
Journal of Applied Statistics

". . . a very engaging and valuable book for all who use statistics in any setting."

". . . a concise guide to the basics of statistics, replete with examples . . . a valuablereference for more advanced statisticians as well."
MAA Reviews

Now in its Third Edition, the highly readable Common Errors in Statistics (and How to Avoid Them) continues to serve as a thorough and straightforward discussion of basic statistical methods, presentations, approaches, and modeling techniques. Further enriched with new examples and counterexamples from the latest research as well as added coverage of relevant topics, this new edition of the benchmark book addresses popular mistakes often made in data collection and provides an indispensable guide to accurate statistical analysis and reporting. The authors' emphasis on careful practice, combined with a focus on the development of solutions, reveals the true value of statistics when applied correctly in any area of research.

The Third Edition has been considerably expanded and revised to include:

  • A new chapter on data quality assessment
  • A new chapter on correlated data

  • An expanded chapter on data analysis covering categorical and ordinal data, continuous measurements, and time-to-event data, including sections on factorial and crossover designs

  • Revamped exercises with a stronger emphasis on solutions

  • An extended chapter on report preparation

  • New sections on factor analysis as well as Poisson and negative binomial regression

Providing valuable, up-to-date information in the same user-friendly format as its predecessor, Common Errors in Statistics (and How to Avoid Them), Third Edition is an excellent book for students and professionals in industry, government, medicine, and the social sciences.



1 Sources of Error 3

Prescription, 4

Fundamental Concepts, 5

Ad Hoc, Post Hoc Hypotheses, 7

To Learn More, 11

2 Hypotheses: The Why of Your Research 13

Prescription, 13

What is a Hypothesis?, 14

Found Data, 16

Null Hypothesis, 16

Neyman–Pearson Theory, 17

Deduction and Induction, 21

Losses, 22

Decisions, 23

To Learn More, 25

3 Collecting Data 27

Preparation, 27

Response Variables, 28

Determining Sample Size, 32

Sequential Sampling, 36

One-Tail or Two?, 37

Fundamental Assumptions, 40

Experimental Design, 41

Four Guidelines, 43

Are Experiments Really Necessary?, 46

To Learn More, 47


4 Data Quality Assessment 51

Objectives, 52

Review the Sampling Design, 52

Data Review, 53

The Four-Plot, 55

To Learn More, 55

5 Estimation 57

Prevention, 57

Desirable and Not-So-Desirable Estimators, 57

Interval Estimates, 61

Improved Results, 65

Summary, 66

To Learn More, 66

6 Testing Hypotheses: Choosing a Test Statistic 67

First Steps, 68

Test Assumptions, 70

Binomial Trials, 71

Categorical Data, 72

Time-to-Event Data (Survival Analysis), 73

Comparing the Means of Two Sets of Measurements, 76

Comparing Variances, 85

Comparing the Means of k Samples, 89

Subjective Data, 91

Independence Versus Correlation, 91

Higher-Order Experimental Designs, 92

Inferior Tests, 96

Multiple Tests, 97

Before You Draw Conclusions, 97

Summary, 99

To Learn More, 99

7 Miscellaneous Statistical Procedures 101

Bootstrap, 102

Bayesian Methodology, 103

Meta-Analysis, 110

Permutation Tests, 112

To Learn More, 113


8 Reporting Your Results 117

Fundamentals, 117

Descriptive Statistics, 122

Standard Error, 127

p-Values, 130

Confidence Intervals, 131

Recognizing and Reporting Biases, 133

Reporting Power, 135

Drawing Conclusions, 135

Summary, 136

To Learn More, 136

9 Interpreting Reports 139

With a Grain of Salt, 139

The Analysis, 141

Rates and Percentages, 145

Interpreting Computer Printouts, 146

To Learn More, 146

10 Graphics 149

The Soccer Data, 150

Five Rules for Avoiding Bad Graphics, 150

One Rule for Correct Usage of Three-Dimensional Graphics, 159

The Misunderstood and Maligned Pie Chart, 161

Two Rules for Effective Display of Subgroup Information, 162

Two Rules for Text Elements in Graphics, 166

Multidimensional Displays, 167

Choosing Graphical Displays, 170

Summary, 172

To Learn More, 172


11 Univariate Regression 177

Model Selection, 178

Stratification, 183

Estimating Coefficients, 185

Further Considerations, 187

Summary, 191

To Learn More, 192

12 Alternate Methods of Regression 193

Linear Versus Non-Linear Regression, 194

Least Absolute Deviation Regression, 194

Errors-in-Variables Regression, 196

Quantile Regression, 199

The Ecological Fallacy, 201

Nonsense Regression, 202

Summary, 202

To Learn More, 203

13 Multivariable Regression 205

Caveats, 205

Correcting for Confounding Variables, 207

Keep It Simple, 207

Dynamic Models, 208

Factor Analysis, 208

Reporting Your Results, 209

A Conjecture, 211

Decision Trees, 211

Building a Successful Model, 214

To Learn More, 215

14 Modeling Correlated Data 217

Common Sources of Error, 218

Panel Data, 218

Fixed- and Random-Effects Models, 219

Population-Averaged GEEs, 219

Quick Reference for Popular Panel Estimators, 221

To Learn More, 223

15 Validation 225

Objectives, 225

Methods of Validation, 226

Measures of Predictive Success, 229

Long-Term Stability, 231

To Learn More, 231





"The new edition incorporates more graphics and examples using more recent data. … Good's advice is usually wise, and always worth considering. Recommended as stimulating reading for the statistical sophisticate." (Journal of Biopharmaceutical Statistics, January 2010)