ASA Headlines

What Is the Question (in Data Analytics)?

Jeff Leek and Roger Peng, biostatistics professors at Johns Hopkins University, answer this question in a "Perspective" article published February 26 online on Science Express. The duo write: "We have found that the most frequent failure in data analysis is mistaking the type of question being considered." They then offer explanations of the six data-analysis types: descriptive, exploratory, inferential, predictive, causal and mechanistic. "Mistakes in the type of data analysis and therefore the conclusions that can be drawn from data are made regularly," they add. Read more.

ASA Comment on a Journal's Ban on Null Hypothesis Statistical Testing

An editorial published earlier this month in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology has raised concerns in the statistics community. The editorial declares that "the null hypothesis significance testing procedure (NHSTP) is invalid," and states that authors of papers submitted to the journal, will--prior to publication--"have to remove all vestiges of the NHSTP (p-values, t-values, F-values, statements about 'significant' differences or lack thereof, and so on)." Bayesian alternatives will be considered on a case-by-case basis and "are neither required nor banned" from the journal.

The statistical community is aware of problems associated with the use and interpretation of inferential methods, and appreciates the concerns that the journal has about misuse of such methods in scientific research. However, the journal proposes to fall back entirely on descriptive statistics and use "larger sample sizes than is typical in much psychology research." We believe this policy may have its own negative consequences and thus the proper use of inferential methods needs to be analyzed and debated in the larger research community.

A group of more than two-dozen distinguished statistical professionals is developing an ASA statement on p-values and inference that highlights the issues and competing viewpoints. The ASA encourages the editors of this journal and others who might share their concerns to consider what is offered in the ASA statement to appear later this year and not discard the proper and appropriate use of statistical inference.

A Statistical Look at March Madness

Does each "bubble" team have an equal probability of being selected for "March Madness"? A statistical analysis conducted by four Virginia Tech University statisticians confirms the existence of an unacknowledged factor that can influence the NCAA Selection Committee: a team's marquee potential. This factor can push a marquee men's basketball team into the NCAA tournament's coveted field over less-prestigious teams with a similar season record and strength of schedule rating. An article about this marquee factor finding is published in the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports). Read more.

We Need You for STATS.org

Raise your hand if you recently read a news article and were disappointed by how the journalist reported the data or a statistical concept. You're not alone! The ASA is partnering with STATS.org to introduce journalists and editors to statistical concepts and statisticians who can help them become more statistically savvy. You can help this initiative. The next time you read a news article that misstates or misinterprets statistical data or concepts, contact ASA Public Relations Coordinator Jeff Myers. ASA member Michael Lavine did this, resulting in 5,000 views to date of his January article on the STATS.org website.

JASA Report Shows Equivalent Surgeon Mortality Rates

There is no statistical difference between the patient mortality rates of new and experienced surgeons a study using a newly developed statistical methodology and conducted by a research team comprised of medical doctors and statisticians has found. The study recently was published by the Journal of the American Statistical Association. Because surgical training was radically changed in recent years—including a reduction of six to 12 months of training time—and other factors, the research team said further study will be needed to ensure the findings generalize.
Read more.

Emery Brown Elected to National Academy of Engineering

ASA member Emery N. Brown was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) recently. Brown, a professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was honored for developing neural signal processing algorithms for understanding memory encoding and modeling of brain states of anesthesia. He is one of a few people who is a member of all three of the National Academies-Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences and NAE. "It is a noteworthy achievement and one that demonstrates the value that members of our profession bring to addressing important real-world problems," said ASA President David Morganstein. "Indeed, congratulations are in order, but I think what I most want to say is, 'Thank you for being a superb example of what is possible when talent and dedication are combined in service of science and society.'" added ASA Executive Director Ronald L. Wasserstein. Read more.

Young Statisticians Writing Competition Underway

The annual Young Statisticians Writing Competition, sponsored by Significance and the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), is accepting entries. The contest promotes and encourages top-class writing about statistics by statisticians within the first 10 years of their career. Significance will publish the winning article in its October edition and on significancemagazine.com, while runners-up also will be published online. Three finalists will be invited to present their work at a special session of the RSS International Conference in September; the overall winner will be announced at that meeting. Learn more.

JQAS Issue Focuses on March Madness

The March issue of the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports (JQAS) features five articles about prediction models and methods for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, more commonly called March Madness. The article authors include the winning team and other top finishers in last year's "March Machine Learning Mania" prediction contest on Kaggle. In this competition, contestants made probability predictions for all the 2014 NCAA tournament games. Each article features innovative modeling methods and strategies used by its author(s). With the exception of the "Editor's Choice" article, all articles are open access through April 15.


Wasserstein HuffPost Blog Explains Probability of Lottery Winners

With the Powerball Lottery jackpot at $360 million and growing, ASA Executive Director Ronald L. Wasserstein penned a blog for the Huffington Post explaining how someone will win, even if the probability is small. The entry was published in "The Blog," an area "featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors." In the blog, Wasserstein wrote, "The next time you buy that Powerball ticket, don't be surprised that someone won the jackpot-and certainly don't be surprised it isn't you!" Read the complete blog post.

Significance Opens Archives

Significance Opens Archives Significance magazine has opened its 10-year archives for access by the public. The magazine's volumes 1 through 10 are available to read, free of charge. Further, all magazine content will be made freely available one year after its initial publication. Editor Brian Tarran believes open access will demonstrate the importance of statistics and the contributions it makes in all areas of life. Royal Statistical Society and ASA members and subscribers will continue to enjoy exclusive access to the latest magazine content. Read more.

Statistics Sets Pace in Undergraduate STEM Degrees

Statistics is the fastest-growing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) undergraduate degree in the United States over the last four years. The ASA analyzed data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) on 160 STEM bachelor's degree categories granted by U.S. public and nonprofit colleges and universities. The ASA analysis showed undergraduate statistics degrees nearly doubled (95% growth rate) during the period spanning 2010 to 2013. The significant growth of statistics outpaced that of all computer-related disciplines, environment and psychology. Read more.

Winner of Free ASA Membership

Winner of Monthly Drawing for FREE ASA Membership Congratulations to Jinglei, winner of the February drawing for FREE ASA membership.






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Other Recent Headlines

Washington Post Examines Reproducibility

In an article titled "The New Scientific Revolution: Reproducibility at Last," The Washington Post reports on the growing reproducibility movement in science. "Roughly four centuries after the invention of the scientific method, the leaders of the scientific community are recalibrating their requirements, pushing for the sharing of data and greater experimental transparency," wrote reporter Joel Achenbach. He also noted top-tier journals such as Science and Nature have announced new guidelines for the research they publish. The ASA is involved in Science's efforts to improve reproducibility and last year helped the journal establish its Statistical Board of Reviewing Editors. Read more.

Technometrics Seeks Book Reviewers

Technometrics is seeking additional reviewers for new books. The book review section publishes reviews of books that are directly relevant to the practice of statistics in the physical, chemical, and engineering sciences. Experience in these areas makes you a valuable reviewer for Technometrics. Read more...

Statistics and Public Policy Calls for Editor Applications & Nominations

The American Statistical Association invites nominations and applications for the position of editor of Statistics and Public Policy.

SPP is an open-access journal publishing papers that apply strong statistical methodology to problems in the realm of public policy and /or relevant political science. Articles may address international, national, or local policy questions, and the emphasis is upon the application rather than methodological novelty. Read more...

ASA Now Accepting Nominations for 2015 Fellows and Awards

We believe it is important to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions in the field of statistics. Please consider nominating one of your colleagues for an ASA award or Fellow. Information about ASA awards.

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