Statistics for the Life Sciences (4th Edition)
Book PrefaceStatistics for the Life Sciences (4th Edition)
Statistics for the Life Sciences is an introductory text in statistics, specifically addressed to students specializing in the life sciences. Its primary aims are (1) to show students how statistical reasoning is used in biological, medical, and agricultural research; (2) to enable students confidently to carry out simple statistical analyses and to interpret the results; and (3) to raise students’ awareness of basic statistical issues such as randomization, confounding, and the role of independent replication.
Style and Approach
The style of Statistics for the Life Sciences is informal and uses only minimal mathematical notation.There are no prerequisites except elementary algebra; anyone who can read a biology or chemistry textbook can read this text. It is suitable for use by graduate or undergraduate students in biology, agronomy, medical and health sciences, nutrition, pharmacy, animal science, physical education, forestry, and other life sciences.
Use of Real Data Real examples are more interesting and often more enlightening than artificial ones. Statistics for the Life Sciences includes hundreds of examples and exercises that use real data, representing a wide variety of research in the life sciences. Each example has been chosen to illustrate a particular statistical issue. The exercises have been designed to reduce computational effort and focus students’ attention on concepts and interpretations.
Emphasis on Ideas The text emphasizes statistical ideas rather than computations or mathematical formulations. Probability theory is included only to support statistics concepts. Throughout the discussion of descriptive and inferential statistics, interpretation is stressed. By means of salient examples, the student is shown why it is important that an analysis be appropriate for the research question to be answered, for the statistical design of the study, and for the nature of the underlying distributions. Th student is warned against the common blunder of confusing statistical nonsignificance with practical insignificance and is encouraged to use confidence intervals to assess the magnitude of an effect.The student is led to recognize the impact on real research of design concepts such as random sampling, randomization, efficiency, and the control of extraneous variation by blocking or adjustment. Numerous exercises amplify and reinforce the student’s grasp of these ideas.
The Role of Technology The analysis of research data is usually carried out with the aid of a computer. Computer-generated graphs are shown at several places in the text. However, in studying statistics it is desirable for the student to gain experience working directly with data, using paper and pencil and a handheld calculator, as well as a computer. This experience will help the student appreciate the nature and purpose of the statistical computations. The student is thus prepared to make intelligent use of the computer—to give it appropriate instructions and properly interpret the output. Accordingly, most of the exercises in this text are intended for hand calculation. However, electronic data files are provided for many of the exercises, so that a computer can be used if desired. Selected exercises are identified as being intended to be completed with use of a computer. (Typically, the computer exercises require calculations that would be unduly burdensome if carried out by hand.)
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