Statistical Resources: How to Read a Paper

Statistics abound and you need to be able to understand them – even in film studies (see here and here). There are many textbooks that will tell you how to do statistics, but far less attention is paid to being able to understand statistics as a consumer and – somewhat bafflingly – as a user of statistical methods. There are many good statistical textbooks but understanding of the use of statistics in research rarely features. The result is that learning statistics is a lot like being taught how to write before you have been taught how to read. It would be much easier to things the other way round.

Fortunately, there is a series of articles by Trisha Greenhalgh under the heading ‘How to Read a Paper’ published in the British Medical Journal in 1997 that do precisely this. Even better, they are freely available through Pubmed. If you are thinking of using statistics in research in film studies or if you come across statistics in the research you are reading then it would definitely help to have read these first.

The papers can be accessed at the links below:

Greenhalgh T 1997a Getting your bearings (deciding what the paper is about), British Medical Journal 315 (7102): 243-246.

Greenhalgh T 1997b Assessing the methodological quality of published papersBritish Medical Journal 315 (7103): 305-308.

Greenhalgh T 1997c Statistics for the non-statistician: different types of data need different statistical testsBritish Medical Journal 315 (7104): 364-366.

Greenhalgh T 1997d, Statistics for the non-statistician II: “significant” relations and their pitfallsBritish Medical Journal 315 (7105): 422-425.

It may be necessary to scroll down through the pdf to find the relevant section.

Although these articles are aimed at doctors dealing with medical research the basic principles apply in all areas and are a good place to start if you want to be able understand the use of statistics in research in film studies being able to read the paper will obviously be an advantage.

 

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About Nick Redfern

I graduated from the University of Kent in 1998 with a degree in Film Studies and History, and was awarded an MA by the same institution in 2002. I received my Ph.D. from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006 for a thesis title 'Regionalism and the Cinema in the United Kingdom, 1992 to 2002.' I have taught at Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire. My research interests include regional film cultures and industries in the United Kingdom; cognition and communication in the cinema; anxiety in contemporary Hollywood cinema; cinemetrics; and film style and film form. My work has been published in Entertext, the International Journal of Regional and Local Studies, the New Review of Film and Television Studies, Cyfrwng: Media Wales Journal, and the Journal of British Cinema and Television.

Posted on June 21, 2012, in Film Studies, Statistical Literacy, Statistics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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