ASA Headlines

Davidian Appointed to AAAS Program Committee

ASA Past President Marie Davidian, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Statistics at North Carolina State University, has been appointed to the American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee. She will serve a three-year term with a dozen other interdisciplinary professionals who work in diverse areas of science, technology, and education. The committee is charged with establishing the theme and program tracks, reviewing proposals, and selecting symposia for the world's largest scientific meeting. Davidian is the only statistical scientist on the committee. She follows another former ASA president—Sallie Keller—whose three-year term ended in February.

Vote in the ASA 2015 Election of Officers

Vote in the ASA 2015 Election of Officers Candidates for the ASA's 2015 election have been chosen, and now it's your turn to vote. Make sure to look for your ballots in your email inbox (postcards will be mailed to members who do not have an email address on file) and vote early. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. PDT on May 1. Read the complete candidate biographies.

Results will be announced shortly after the election closes, and the winning candidates' terms will begin January 1, 2016.

Young Statisticians: Make Your Statistical Writing Accessible

You can get tips for writing a winning entry for the 2015 Young Statisticians Writing Competition during an upcoming webinar featuring three presenters who will share their experience and advice. The Young Statisticians Section (YSS) of the Royal Statistical Society, sponsor of the competition with Significance magazine, is hosting the Young Statisticians Writing Webinar for aspiring writers. This free, one-hour webinar will begin at 4 p.m. (GMT) March 19 and cover everything you need to know to start writing your entry. Click here to see the list of presenters and join the webinar.

Ellenberg Profiled by The Economist

ASA member and University of Pennsylvania biostatistics professor Susan Ellenberg was profiled in the March 7 issue of The Economist. During her career, Ellenberg has helped to shape a discipline that owes as much to ethics and philosophy as it does to pure mathematics, notes the article. She has played a big part in improving the data-monitoring committees that now oversee virtually all clinical trials, helped establish standard practices for tracking dangerous treatments, and encouraged patient lobbies to find a voice in clinical testing. Read more.

What Is the Question (in Data Analytics)?

Jeff Leek and Roger Peng, biostatistics professors at Johns Hopkins University, answer this question in the March 20 issue of Science. In the article filed under a "Statistics" topic header, the duo writes: "We have found that the most frequent failure in data analysis is mistaking the type of question being considered." They then explain 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 (subscription required).

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.

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.


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.

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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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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