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Statistical Rules of Thumb

Statistical Rules of Thumb
Author: Gerald van Belle
ISBN 13: 9780470144480
ISBN 10: 470144483
Edition: 2nd
Publisher: Wiley-Interscience
Publication Date: 2008-09-02
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
List Price: $87.00

Praise for the First Edition:

"For a beginner [this book] is a treasure trove; for an experienced person it can provide new ideas on how better to pursue the subject of applied statistics."
Journal of Quality Technology

Sensibly organized for quick reference, Statistical Rules of Thumb, Second Edition compiles simple rules that are widely applicable, robust, and elegant, and each captures key statistical concepts. This unique guide to the use of statistics for designing, conducting, and analyzing research studies illustrates real-world statistical applications through examples from fields such as public health and environmental studies. Along with an insightful discussion of the reasoning behind every technique, this easy-to-use handbook also conveys the various possibilities statisticians must think of when designing and conducting a study or analyzing its data.

Each chapter presents clearly defined rules related to inference, covariation, experimental design, consultation, and data representation, and each rule is organized and discussed under five succinct headings: introduction; statement and illustration of the rule; the derivation of the rule; a concluding discussion; and exploration of the concept's extensions. The author also introduces new rules of thumb for topics such as sample size for ratio analysis, absolute and relative risk, ANCOVA cautions, and dichotomization of continuous variables. Additional features of the Second Edition include:

  • Additional rules on Bayesian topics
  • New chapters on observational studies and Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM)
  • Additional emphasis onvariation and causation
  • Updated material with new references, examples, and sources

A related Web site provides a rich learning environment and contains additional rules, presentations by the author, and a message board where readers can share their own strategies and discoveries. Statistical Rules of Thumb, Second Edition is an ideal supplementary book for courses in experimental design and survey research methods at the upper-undergraduate and graduate levels. It also serves as an indispensable reference for statisticians, researchers, consultants, and scientists who would like to develop an understanding of the statistical foundations of their research efforts. A related website www.vanbelle.org provides additional rules, author presentations and more.

Doody Review Services

Reviewer:Leon F Burmeister, PhD(University of Iowa College of Public Health)
Description:This book is designed for statistical practitioners who encounter a wide range of study designs and analytical opportunities. The first edition was published in 2002.
Purpose:It is intended to provide guidance to applied statisticians as they encounter various study designs and analytical challenges. The book achieves its purpose; it provides effective strategies and notes inherent limitations that are helpful to those engaged in the many applications of statistical principles.
Audience:The potential audience is very broad, including students and practitioners in all of the many disciplines that use statistical design and analysis. The author's experience includes extensive work in occupational and environmental health, which is apparent in the breadth of topics.
Features:The book addresses commonly used analytical procedures and basic experimental and environmental study designs. The strength of the book is in the way it provides many practical guidelines expressed as rules of thumb and effectively illustrated by actual studies. The only concerns result from the fact that the rules of thumb are not supported by complete theoretical background, but this is not the purpose of the book.
Assessment:This is a unique and effective contribution. Unlike some statistical books, this is a truly enjoyable read. As noted in the preface, this second edition has some changes from the first edition. The new rule per month has been dropped and new chapters on observational studies and evidence-based medicine have been added. The result is that both the high quality and the many contributions of the first edition have been substantially increased.