Chapter 1 Introduction

This reference book is a companion to the Statistical Literacy workshop offered by the Scavetta Academy. It is not intended as a comprehensive, stand-alone introduction to the topic.

1.1 What is this workshop about?

Statistics is an expansive field of study. We start with the knowledge that it is impossible to teach even the most motivated doctoral student the field in a two-day workshop. Instead, our goal will be to teach you how to be statistically literate. This means that we want you to begin developing an intuitive feel for the field and how to use it in your own research. We want you to feel comfortable discussing statistics with statisticians, which you will certainly still need to do after this workshop, and to be able to better understand and critique published statistics.

1.2 Learning Objectives

We focus on classical statistics (also referred to as frequentist statistics), which is used extensively in the life sciences. The workshop is broken down into three main topic areas:

  • Data Collection
  • Descriptive Statistics
  • Inferential Statistics

At the end of this workshop you should understand the purpose and uses of classical statistics as an integral part of the scientific method. This means understanding how statistics informs our decisions when designing experiments, collecting and describing samples and also about inferring something about the population from which the sample was taken. To aid in you understanding of inference we will cover estimation and confidence intervals before progressing onto hypothesis testing. Commonly used statistical tests (such at the t-test) and linear regression will be covered in this context.

1.3 Teaching Methods

To achieve the goals of this workshop we will implement several tools. In addition to this reference book and the accompanying workshop presentation, quiz questions will be posed throughout the workshop to test student’s knowledge. Specific concepts will be demonstrated with custom web applications available during the workshop.