- 1.2: Types of Biological Variables
- One of the first steps in deciding which statistical test to use is determining what kinds of variables you have. When you know what the relevant variables are, what kind of variables they are, and what your null and alternative hypotheses are, it's usually pretty easy to figure out which test you should use. I classify variables into three types: measurement variables, nominal variables, and ranked variables.
- 1.3: Probability
- When dealing with probabilities in biology, you are often working with theoretical expectations, not population samples. For example, in a genetic cross of two individual Drosophila melanogaster that are heterozygous at the vestigial locus, Mendel's theory predicts that the probability of an offspring individual being a recessive homozygote (having teeny-tiny wings) is one-fourth, or 0.25. This is equivalent to saying that one-fourth of a population of offspring will have tiny wings.
- 1.4: Basic Concepts of Hypothesis Testing
- The technique used by the vast majority of biologists, and the technique that most of this handbook describes, is sometimes called "frequentist" or "classical" statistics. It involves testing a null hypothesis by comparing the data you observe in your experiment with the predictions of a null hypothesis. You estimate what the probability would be of obtaining the observed results, or something more extreme, if the null hypothesis were true.
- 1.5: Confounding Variables
- A confounding variable is a variable that may affect the dependent variable. This can lead to erroneous conclusions about the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. You deal with confounding variables by controlling them; by matching; by randomizing; or by statistical control.
John H. McDonald (University of Delaware)