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Statistics in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition by Sarah Boslaugh

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Chapter 20. Critiquing Statistics Presented by Others

This chapter explains how to read and critique statistics presented by someone else, including statistics contained in published research articles and workplace presentations. It begins with a general outline of how to critique a research article and then focuses more narrowly on ways to critique the statistics chosen and their presentation, as well as common ways authors and presenters try to cover up weaknesses in their data. In some ways, this chapter has the broadest applicability of any in this book because even if you never plan or carry out a statistical analysis yourself, there’s a good chance you will consume statistics presented by others, whether in your workplace, at school, or simply in your daily life as an informed citizen.

Evaluating the Whole Article

Often, you are called upon to evaluate not just the statistics used in an article but the entire article. This can be intimidating, particularly the first time you face such a task, but following a systematic process can make it easier. If you are reviewing an article for a specific journal, there may be a checklist or other form provided to guide your evaluation process. If not, check other publications in the field to see whether they have a checklist or set of guidelines that might be useful to you. For instance, Preventing Chronic Disease, a journal published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has a peer review checklist. This chapter presents a ...

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