The best books for learning about open science and how to do better research with better statistics

Who am I?

I gradually shifted my statistics teaching from significance testing—traditional, but bamboozling—to estimation (confidence intervals). I became passionate about advocating this shift. I called estimation ‘the new statistics’ because, although not new, relying on it would, for many researchers, be very new. It’s more informative, makes sense, and is a pleasure to teach and use. I ‘retired’ to write Understanding the New Statistics (2012). That was influential, so I started writing an intro version. Open Science arrived and I realised estimation is exactly what Open Science needs. Robert Calin-Jageman joined me, we developed my draft to include Open Science, and published Introduction to the New Statistics (2017). Enjoy!

I wrote...

Introduction to the New Statistics: Estimation, Open Science, and Beyond

By Geoff Cumming, Robert Calin-Jageman,

Book cover of Introduction to the New Statistics: Estimation, Open Science, and Beyond

What is my book about?

This is the first introductory statistics text to use an estimation approach and explain Open Science from the very start. Estimation helps readers understand effect sizes, confidence intervals, and meta-analysis (‘the new statistics’). It simply makes sense and is a pleasure to teach and use. Open Science practices are new and exciting: They encourage replication and enhance the trustworthiness of research. The book also explains traditional significance testing so students can understand old published research. There are numerous real research examples. The approach is highly visual, to make ideas accessible and memorable. The free ESCI (Exploratory Software for Confidence Intervals) software makes concepts visually vivid and provides calculation and graphing facilities. A second edition, with additional R-based software, is coming in 2023.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology: A Manifesto for Reforming the Culture of Scientific Practice

Why did I love this book?

Still the best book to diagnose the problems and explain why we need Open Science. Chris Chambers tells of his disillusionment with so many aspects of what researchers were doing, in psychology, but also in medicine and many other fields. That rang true to me—I travelled that same road. He goes on from explaining the problems to describing solutions. Many of these, including openness, better statistics, replication, and increased scrutiny, are now being advocated or required by funders and journal editors, and adopted by researchers. That’s Open Science, hooray!

By Chris Chambers,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why psychology is in peril as a scientific discipline-and how to save it

Psychological science has made extraordinary discoveries about the human mind, but can we trust everything its practitioners are telling us? In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that a lot of research in psychology is based on weak evidence, questionable practices, and sometimes even fraud. The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology diagnoses the ills besetting the discipline today and proposes sensible, practical solutions to ensure that it remains a legitimate and reliable science in the years ahead. In this unflinchingly candid manifesto, Chris Chambers shows how…

Book cover of Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth

Why did I love this book?

I love how Ritchie starts with a rather wry account, addressed directly to you as a would-be researcher, of the challenges and weirdness you’ll encounter as you launch into your own research. His own research helped sparked recognition of the ‘replication crisis,’ so he’s well placed to tell us about misguided practices and the sometimes wicked deeds of researchers. More happily, he describes how we can return to the sound foundations of good scientific practice. A current term for that is ‘Open Science.’

By Stuart Ritchie,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Science Fictions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An insider’s view of science reveals why many scientific results cannot be relied upon – and how the system can be reformed.

Science is how we understand the world. Yet failures in peer review and mistakes in statistics have rendered a shocking number of scientific studies useless – or, worse, badly misleading. Such errors have distorted our knowledge in fields as wide-ranging as medicine, physics, nutrition, education, genetics, economics, and the search for extraterrestrial life. As Science Fictions makes clear, the current system of research funding and publication not only fails to safeguard us from blunders but actively encourages bad…

Book cover of Beyond Significance Testing

Why did I love this book?

You may have heard of ‘significance testing,’ and the magical ‘p < .05,’ which somehow makes a research result ‘significant,’ which is often taken as (almost) ‘true.’ Even if you haven’t heard of all that, Kline explains clearly why significance testing has been disastrous for science, leading to misleading conclusions and much valuable research not even being reported. He draws on my work to explain how ‘the new statistics’ (estimation) is a much better way to understand results. The first chapter is fairly easy reading. Later chapters are also terrific but get more technical as Kline explains lots of ways to do things better. As I’m quoted on the back cover “Read this book and see the future!” Happily, the future is increasingly looking as Kline recommended.

By Rex B. Kline,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beyond Significance Testing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traditional education in statistics that emphasises significance testing leaves researchers and students ill prepared to understand what their results really mean. Specifically, most researchers and students who do not have strong quantitative backgrounds have difficulty understanding outcomes of statistical tests.

As more and more people become aware of this problem, the emphasis on statistical significance in the reporting of results is declining. Increasingly, researchers are expected to describe the magnitudes and precisions of their findings and also their practical, theoretical, or clinical significance.

This accessibly written book reviews the controversy about significance testing, which has now crossed various disciplines as…

Book cover of Research Methods in Psychology: Evaluating a World of Information

Why did I love this book?

Yes, this is a textbook but, if you are seeking a research design and methods text for psychology or a related discipline, this is easily my top choice. There are lots of references to topical stories to keep everything relevant for students. There’s a truckload of valuable stuff online to support both teachers and learners. This fourth edition is right up-to-the-moment, Chapter 3 especially so, as it explains three types of scientific claims, and four types of validity that researchers should aim to achieve. That may sound forbidding, but Morling’s examples and explanations are pleasingly accessible.  

By Beth Morling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Research Methods in Psychology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Featuring an emphasis on future consumers of psychological research and examples drawn from popular media, Research Methods in Psychology: Evaluating a World of Information develops students' critical-thinking skills as they evaluate information in their everyday lives. The Fourth Edition of this best-selling text takes learning to a new level for both consumers and producers by offering new content, interactive learning, and online assessment to help them master the concepts.

Book cover of The Design of Experiments in Neuroscience

Why did I love this book?

Another research design textbook, this one more specifically about neuroscience. My co-author, neuroscientist Robert Calin-Jageman, highly recommends it. This third edition has clear and up-to-date discussions of issues such as p hacking and publication bias that emphasise the need for Open Science. There’s a focus on effect sizes and confidence intervals, as in the new statistics. The book also describes strategies needed to enhance the rigor and reproducibility of neuroscience research.

By Mary E. Harrington,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Design of Experiments in Neuroscience as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using engaging prose, Mary E. Harrington introduces neuroscience students to the principles of scientific research including selecting a topic, designing an experiment, analyzing data, and presenting research. This new third edition updates and clarifies the book's wealth of examples while maintaining the clear and effective practical advice of the previous editions. New and expanded topics in this edition include techniques such as optogenetics and conditional transgenes as well as a discussion of rigor and reproducibility in neuroscience research. Extended coverage of descriptive and inferential statistics arms readers with the analytical tools needed to interpret data. Throughout, practical guidelines are provided…

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