ASA Headlines

ASA Past President Janet Norwood Passes

Janet L. Norwood, who served 13 years as U.S. Commissioner of Labor Statistics from May 1979 to December 1991, died March 27 in Austin, Texas. Norwood served three presidents—Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush—as the agency's leader. She rose to top of the agency after joining it in the early 1960s and retired from government service in 1991 after developing a reputation for "integrity, professionalism, and impartiality." Perhaps Norwood's most important contribution at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was the assertion of the agency's independence from both political interference and the rest of the Labor Department on all scientific matters, personnel decisions, and scientific content of all BLS releases, notes her bio on the agency's website. While she was leading the BLS, Norwood also served as the 84th ASA president in 1989. Read more.

Get Involved With This is Statistics

Get Involved With This is Statistics When was the last time you checked out the website for the ASA's public awareness campaign—This is Statistics? If it's been a while, take a few minutes now to visit it so you can check out all the new content and videos. And, be sure to take a look at the new video that will be added next week. Also, if you haven't already, please follow This is Statistics on Twitter (@ThisisStats) and like the campaign on Facebook and be sure to share the campaign's messages with your followers and friends. Doing so will keep you and your network in the loop as new developments occur with This is Statistics.

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.

Winner of Free ASA Membership

Winner of Monthly Drawing for FREE ASA Membership Congratulations to Brandi Weiss, winner of the March drawing for FREE ASA membership.






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