Median Watch

Eyes on statistics

What is the AIMOS conference?

A cover of Science from 2018 (available here) shows two giant scientists peering down on other scientists at work. It is a great image to describe metascience, also known as meta-research or the “science of science”. This is the growing field of scientifically studying science, with the aim of understanding why it sometimes fails and how we can make it better. At AIMOS (Association for Interdisciplinary Meta-Research and Open Science) we are the giant scientists peering down on our colleagues.

What to do when applying for research grants is a waste of time for almost everybody

Reposted with permission from Campus Morning Mail. Researchers have a dark sense of humour when it comes to research funding. One of my favourite sneers was from the ecologist Terry McGlynn who said, “instead of writing this grant, I should walk the whole country and get a penny from each person. Same amount of money, but less hassle.” Applicants to last year’s early- and mid-career Medical Research Future Fund fellowships may be wishing that they had gone on a long walk rather sitting at their computers, with speculated success rates at under 5 per cent.

An apology to the public

Sorry state. A few years ago I thought about writing an article that apologised to the public about the poor state of health and medical research. Their tax pays for this research and they give their time and data, and yet far too often the final results are totally unreliable. In the end I bottled it; too worried about the potential harm to my career. But today I’ve read this important paper from a group of statistical colleagues and it’s given me the nerve to apologise.

I humbly present the novel c-index

Show me the shortcut Scientists are busy people. Busy people love a short-cut because it gives them more time to be busy. The p-value is a well-used scientific short-cut. It can decide for us whether something is important or not, and it’s based on an equation so it must be right. Another heaven-sent shortcut is the h-index which allows us to decide the careers of researchers based on just one number (also made by an equation).

A change to judging career disruption

Re-posted from this 2016 AusHSI blog because this is still an issue. Let’s start with the obvious. Winning funding for health and medical research is soul-crushingly hard. Success rates for major schemes are under 20%, so failure is the norm. Your application will be judged by a panel of 6 to 12 senior researchers. A key marker of success is your track record, which may simply mean the number and quality of your papers, and your previous research funding (a very circular measure).