Thursday, November 19, 2015

Habits and open data: Helping students develop a theory of scientific mind

This post is related to my open science talk with Candice Morey at Psychonomics 2015 in Chicago; also read Candice's new post on the pragmatics: "A visit from the Ghost of Research Past". In this post, we suggest three ideas that can be implemented in a lab setting to improve scientific practices, and encourage habits that make openness easier. These ideas are designed to be minimally effortful for the adviser, but to have a big impact on practice:

* Data partners: young scientists have a partner in another lab, with whom they swap data. The goal is to see if their data documentation is good enough that their partner can reproduce their main analysis with minimal interaction.
* Five year plan: When a project is part-way through, students must give a brief report that details what they have done to insure that the data and analyses will be comprehensible to members of the lab in five-year's time, after they have left.
* Submission check: At first submission of an article based on the project, advisors should discuss with their advisees the pros and cons of opening their data, and how the data will be promoted online, if it will be open.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Neyman does science, part 2

In part one of this series, we discussed the different philosophical viewpoints of Neyman and Fisher on the purposes of statistics. Neyman had a behavioral, decision based view: the purpose of statistical inference is to select one of several possible decisions, enumerated before the data have been collected. To Fisher, and to Bayesians, the purpose of statistical inference is related to the quantification of evidence and rational belief. I agree with Fisher on this issue, and I was curious how Neyman -- with his pre-data inferential philosophy -- would actually tackle a problem with real data. In this second part of the series, we examine Neyman's team's analysis of the data from the Whitetop weather modification experiment in the 1960s.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Neyman does science, part 1

On reading Neyman's statistical and scientific philosophy (e.g., Neyman, 1957), one of the things that strikes a scientist is its extreme rejection of post-data reasoning. Neyman adopts the view that once data is obtained statistical inference is not about reasoning, but is rather about the automatic adoption of one of several decisions. Given the importance of post-data reasoning to scientists -- which can be confirmed by reading any scientific manuscript -- I wondered how Neyman would think and write about an actual, applied problem. This series of blog posts explores Neyman's work on the analysis of weather modification experiments. The (perhaps unsurprising) take-home message from this series of posts is this: not even Neyman applied Neyman's philosophy, when he was confronted with real data.