Unit 4: Collecting Data

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Data Analysis & Activity

Using News Articles to Discuss Experimental Design

I've always found this a very effective way to provoke discussion and also insight into how scientific studies are conducted. However, there are dangers. For one, many news articles don't provide enough information to make a critical judgement as to how sound the study is. Second, newspapers are in the business of selling newspapers, and will sometimes focus their reporting on issues that the scientists considered secondary. A good article on this, which also includes advice on how to use the web to create a news article project for your class, is by Chris Paul and appeared in Stats magazine (Fall 2002).

Choose 2 of the the following articles and answer these questions:

1. State the question of interest in the study.

2. Identify the subjects or units.

3. List the explanatory variables.

4. List the response variables.

5. Is the study observational or an experiment? Explain.

6. What was the outcome of the study? Do you think the conclusion is justified?


To read these files you need a program like Adobe Acrobat Reader.It's free, and works wonders.

Of the Prevention of Scurvy (1753). Not exactly current, but classic.

Baseball injuries (2001), Institute for Prevantative Sports Medicine press release.

Knee Surgery (July 2002), Baylor College of Medicine press release.

Duct Tape Therapy (Oct 2002), CBS News.

Lithium and Suicide (Sept 2003), New York Times Health section.

These articles are all pdf files and will require Adobe Acrobat Reader (PC or Mac) or Preview (Mac) to view.

For solutions, click here.