Many years ago, as a first-year PhD student, I made an appointment to see the biostatistician who worked for the zoology and botany departments of my university. He greeted me with the statement, ‘I hope you are not another zoology student asking which statistical test you should use on the data you’ve been collecting all year’. Luckily, that was not what I wanted to speak to him about. I explained that I was designing an investigation that would take several months to complete. I had never studied statistics and would like to check with him whether my experimental design would enable me to collect data that would be suitable for the statistical test I planned to use. On hearing this, his tone changed and he enthusiastically looked at my plans.
Why is this story relevant to GCE biology students? The point the biostatistician made was that good scientists should think about statistical tests when designing their experiments, not after completing them. If you do the same throughout your course, you are likely to become much more confident when it comes to choosing appropriate statistical tests in your AS or A-level examinations.
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