Mr Epidemiology

No, I'm not a skin doctor



Still Not Significant

A handy alphabetized list of various different ways of stating your results when p > .05! I think my favourites are “teetering on the brink of significance (P=0.06)” and “not significant in the narrow sense of the word (P=0.29)”

Probable Error


What to do if your p-value is just over the arbitrary threshold for ‘significance’ of p=0.05?

You don’t need to play the significance testing game – there are better methods, like quoting the effect size with a confidence interval – but if you do, the rules are simple: the result is either significant or it isn’t.

So if your p-value remains stubbornly higher than 0.05, you should call it ‘non-significant’ and write it up as such. The problem for many authors is that this just isn’t the answer they were looking for: publishing so-called ‘negative results’ is harder than ‘positive results’.

The solution is to apply the time-honoured tactic of circumlocution to disguise the non-significant result as something more interesting. The following list is culled from peer-reviewed journal articles in which (a) the authors set themselves the threshold of 0.05 for significance, (b) failed to achieve that threshold value for…

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A great post illustrating selection bias using the 2012 US Election and Twitter.

normally distributed

According to the Guardian Data Blog, Obama is heading for electoral success, on the basis of a Twitter-based analysis.

It’s all very nice to see mapped out, and the use of geocoding is cool (though possibly flawed), but underlying the approach is a massive potential for selection bias.

The problem is quite simply this: if Democrat supporters use Twitter more frequently (or are more likely to tweet about their political preferences) than Republicans, then the number of tweets supporting Obama over Romney is of course going to suggest that Obama is in the lead. On the other hand, if Republicans are more Twitter-active than Democrats, then there could be an underestimation of the level of support for Obama. Essentially, we’ve got a reasonable estimate for a numerator, but no clue about the denominator.

To answer a question well, the design of the study is crucial. It’s so…

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A phenomenal list of epidemiology courses – both of the “short course” and “online” variety!


So I started my final year as a PhD student yesterday. Or so I am told, as the REF exercise is coming up, and PhD students finishing on time seem to make up at least part of that score. Also, my funding runs out in 12 months – 1 day which might be a bit more of a personal motivator to actually try and achieve that still seemingly unattainable goal (I seem to be slightly stuck in the valley of shit-part of my PhD at the moment).

Thesis relationship: it's complicated

As I go into that scary final year, others are just starting their perilous journey of pre-doctorhood and one of the questions that seems to keep popping up is what courses are good (all those newbies seem to swim in money!). I’ve been lucky enough to go on quite a few, and hear about even more during my two years of thesis-slavery…

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Mr Epidemiology named a Top Public Health Resource by

Top Public Health Resource

Well, that was a cool email to get 🙂

You can check out their full list of Public Health Resources here. They’ve got a ton of blogs there, including ones on HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, mental health and a whole slew of others. I’d definitely recommend bookmarking a few of them.

Thanks! 🙂

New Post On Gradifying: Queen’s Frosh Week As Told By Star Wars GIFs


My colleagues have touched on some of the more serious issues of the day. However, when I arrived at Queen’s, I had bigger questions: Why do people keep yelling “how do you feel?” What’s a “greasepole” and why do people want to climb it? And most importantly, why are there purple people?

For those of you who are confused, lucky you are. Guide you through perils of Queen’s University Frosh Week I will. Ways of the Frosh you will know. Laugh you shall. Yes. Hrmmmmmmmmm.

Also, you should listen to this in the background as you read.

So, without further ado …


Click here to continue reading!!

A great read over on Amasian Science about the Olympics and some important, but sensitive, issues.

Amasian Science

Barr bodies used to bar men from competing as women

Last week, I discussed the inadequacies of genetic-based gender verification. What I failed to mention was that at the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico,

“Barr body detection was introduced and was widely proclaimed to be the solution to gender misrepresentation in sport. This reportedly ‘simpler, objective and more dignified’ test involved the cytological analysis of a buccal smear. The Barr body was first detected by Murray Barr in 1948 during research on the nervous system of cats – cells were analysed following electrical stimulation and a dark staining body was found in the nucleus of some animals and not others. The distinction was found to be related to sex and a similar finding was noted in human autopsies. The findings were published in Nature in 1949 and the nuclear marking became known as the Barr Body.“1

As it turns…

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New Post On Gradifying: Favourite Dessert Places in Kingston

So last time I talked about my favourite places to hang out in Kingston. Given the heatwave that has swept across the country this month, I thought I’d shift gears slightly and talk about my favourite places to grab ice cream and other cold treats.

Kingston’s restaurant industry moves in waves. When I started my Masters, there was a sushi place opening on every block. When I started my PhD, it was poutine and burgers. Now, Kingston is in the middle of an ice cream and froyo explosion.

So let’s begin.

Click here to continue reading!!

Great post on the whole “It’s a girl thing” fiasco.

normally distributed

My twitter feed exploded this morning in response to a new European Commission Campaign called “Science: it’s a girl thing“. Specifically the ‘teaser’ video (below). In summary, the tweeple are not impressed.

My guess is that the video was put together by people who don’t actually know anything about science (open toed shoes in a lab? Tsk!) Or women. So perhaps we should pity them in their ignorance, though presumably they were paid enough that they could have done a little research first. Failure to do so has resulted in what Olivia Solon aptly describes as “the bastard offspring of a Barry M ad and the results of searching for “science” in a stock image library

I can only speak for myself here, but my journey into science was not tinged with any perceptible  gender angle. My father worked with numbers for a living, taught me to…

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You can’t do a PhD if you’re not passionate about the material!

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