In the process of planning the syllabus for my next PhD course on “Scientific Data-Collection”, to be offered for the third time in Spring 2009, I have realized how fragmented the education of statisticians is, especially when considering the applied courses. The applied part of a typical degree in statistics will include a course in Design of Experiments, one on Surveys and Sampling, one on Computing with the latest statistical software (currently R), perhaps a Quality Control, and of course the usual Regression, Multivariate Analysis and other modeling courses.  Because there is usually very little overlap between the courses (perhaps … Continue reading Fragmented

Collecting online data (for research)

In the new era of large amounts of publicly available data, an issue that is sometimes overlooked is ethical data collection. Whereas for experimental studies involving humans we have clear guidelines and an organizational process for assessing and approving data collection (in the US, via the IRB), collecting observational data is much more ambiguous. For instance, if I want to collect data on 50,000 book titles on Amazon, including their ratings, reviews, and cover images – is it ethical to collect this information by web crawling? A first thought might be “why not? the information is there and I am … Continue reading Collecting online data (for research)