Monday, September 22, 2014

Center for Open Science's FREE statistical & methodological consulting services

Center for Open Science (COS) is an organization that seeks "to increase openness, integrity, and reproducibility of scientific research". As a social psychologist, I am most familiar with COS as a repository for experimental data. However, COS also provides free consulting services as to teach scientists how to make their own research processes more replication-friendly

As scholars, we can certainly take advantage of these services. As instructors, the kind folks at COS are willing to provide workshops to our students (including, but not limited to, online workshops). Topics that they can cover include: Reproducible Research Practices, Power Analyses, The ‘New Statistics’, Cumulative Meta-analyses, and Using R to create reproducible code (or more information on scheduling, see their availability calendar).

I once heard it said that the way you learn how to conduct research and statistics in graduate school will be the way you are inclined to conduct research and statistics for the rest of your professional life. As such, why not introduce our students (both graduate and undergraduate) to an aspect of data collection and analysis that both cultivates ethical behavior and is a growing expectation for publication in our top journals?  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

So I wrote a book: Shameless self-promotion 4

When I'm not busy thinking about statistics and research methods, I like to think about positive psychology. I like to think about it so much that I co-authored a positive psychology book with Rich Walker (Winston-Salem State University) and Cory Scherer (Penn State - Schuylkill). The book is called Pollyanna's Revenge and published by Kendall-Hunt. And the book makes a case for the fact that (contrary to many pop-psych reports) there are many good side effects to being a Pollyanna and that our minds engage in all manner on non-conscious processes that help us maintain positive affect (with special attention paid to the role of the Fading Affect Bias and memory in maintaining good moods).

Cross-promotion, y'all!

Monday, September 15, 2014

minimaxir's "Distribution of Yelp ratings for businesses, by business category"

Yelp distribution visualization, posted by redditor minimaxir

This data distribution example comes from the subreddit r/dataisbeautiful (more on what a reddit is here). This specific posting (started by minimaxir) was prompted by several histograms illustrating customer ratings for various Yelp (customer review website) business categories as well as the lively reddit discussion in which users attempt to explain why different categories of services have such different distribution shapes and means.

At a basic level, you can use this data to illustrate skew, histograms, and normal distribution. As a more advanced critical thinking activity, you could challenge your students to think of reasons that some data, like auto repair, is skewed. From a psychometric or industrial/organizational psychology perspective, you could describe how customers use rating scales and whether or not people really understand what average is when providing customer feedback.