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Statistics in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference (In a Nutshell (O'Reilly)) [Paperback]

Sarah Boslaugh , Dr. Paul Andrew Watters
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Aug 2008 In a Nutshell (O'Reilly)

Need to learn statistics as part of your job, or want some help passing a statistics course? Statistics in a Nutshell is a clear and concise introduction and reference that's perfect for anyone with no previous background in the subject. This book gives you a solid understanding of statistics without being too simple, yet without the numbing complexity of most college texts.

You get a firm grasp of the fundamentals and a hands-on understanding of how to apply them before moving on to the more advanced material that follows. Each chapter presents you with easy-to-follow descriptions illustrated by graphics, formulas, and plenty of solved examples. Before you know it, you'll learn to apply statistical reasoning and statistical techniques, from basic concepts of probability and hypothesis testing to multivariate analysis.

Organized into four distinct sections, Statistics in a Nutshell offers you:

    Introductory material:
  • Different ways to think about statistics
  • Basic concepts of measurement and probability theory

  • Data management for statistical analysis
  • Research design and experimental design
  • How to critique statistics presented by others


  • Basic inferential statistics:
  • Basic concepts of inferential statistics
  • The concept of correlation, when it is and is not an appropriate measure of association
  • Dichotomous and categorical data
  • The distinction between parametric and nonparametric statistics


  • Advanced inferential techniques:
  • The General Linear Model
  • Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and MANOVA
  • Multiple linear regression


  • Specialized techniques:
  • Business and quality improvement statistics
  • Medical and public health statistics
  • Educational and psychological statistics

Unlike many introductory books on the subject, Statistics in a Nutshell doesn't omit important material in an effort to dumb it down. And this book is far more practical than most college texts, which tend to over-emphasize calculation without teaching you when and how to apply different statistical tests.

With Statistics in a Nutshell, you learn how to perform most common statistical analyses, and understand statistical techniques presented in research articles. If you need to know how to use a wide range of statistical techniques without getting in over your head, this is the book you want.



Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (4 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596510497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596510497
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 15.2 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 404,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Sarah Boslaugh holds a PhD in Research and Evaluation from the City University of New York and have been working as a statistical analyst for 15 years, in a variety of professional settings, including the New York City Board of Education, the Institutional Research Office of the City University of New York, Montefiore Medical Center, the Virginia Department of Social Services, Magellan Health Services, Washington University School of Medicine, and BJC HealthCare. She has taught statistics in several different contexts and currently teaches Intermediate Statistics at Washington University Medical School. She has published two previous books: An Intermediate Guide to SPSS Programming: Using Syntax for Data Management (SAGE Publications, 2004) and Secondary Data Sources for Public Health (forthcoming from Cambridge U. Press, 2007) and am currently editing the Encyclopedia of Epidemiology for SAGE Publications (forthcoming, 2007).

Paul A. Watters PhD CITP, is Associate Professor in the School of Information and Mathematical Sciences and Centre for Informatics and Applied Optimization (CIAO) at the University of Ballarat. Until recently, he was Head of Data Services at the Medical Research Council's National Survey of Health and Development, which is the oldest of the British birth cohort studies, and an honorary senior research fellow at University College London. He uses multivariate statistics to develop orthogonal and non-orthogonal methods for feature extraction in pattern recognition, especially in biometric applications.


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Statistics In A Nutshell

Statistics, admittedly it's not everyone's favourite subject. In fact I have a friend who insists on referring to topic as sadistics so it's probably a least favourite subject for some. However a staggering amount of life revolves around statistics from politicians throwing numbers at each other in the House of Commons to analysing cost / benefit ratios for new drugs. In fact I don't think it's hyperbole to say that without a decent grounding in statistics you are at a disadvantage in day to day life. Despite working in statistics-heavy research for several years my knowledge is somewhat erratic as I have picked it up more or less as needed - so Statistics In A Nutshell to the rescue!

First impressions of the book were, well, mixed. I'm used to Nutshell books being incredibly terse and this one has blocks of text - even well written descriptions of how to use the different statistical methods. What you have here is really a hybrid between the "revision notes" approach typically taken by Nutshell and a full on text book. While it would be possible to use it as a textbook I wouldn't recommend it simply because the sheer information density would have you running for the aspirin before too many pages. The additional prose is an absolute godsend when using the book as a reference as it describes not only statistical methods but their uses too.

Content wise Statistics In A Nutshell covers pretty much all the bases you might hope for. The first five chapters cover the fundamentals of measurement, probability, data management, descriptive statistics and research design.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great refresher 9 Feb 2011
By AndrewM
Format:Paperback
I came to the book looking for a refresher on university level statistics (after a 20 year absence). It is different from the other stats books that I had in that the explanations are more geared towards use rather than proving everything from first-principles. As such it met my needs very well.

It's not a basic guide and if you're scared of stats I doubt it is the right choice. If, however, you need more confidence on which approaches to use given the type of problem you face it is excellent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Excellent in parts, but with major errors 5 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For example, coverage of the Kruskal Wallis H test.
* Gives the wrong formula: n instead of N, and with (mean R-(n+1))/2 squared rather than (mean R-(N+1)/2)^2.
* Gives Chi Square df for H tests as 8, rather than k-1 (the example has k=3).
* Tells the reader that an H of 2.26 is enough to reject the null hypothesis with a critical Chi Square value of 15.51.

Previous to this there are a few typos, but this is just plain wrong, and is liable to seriously derail anyone attempting to use this book to learn about statistics. In comparison, while it covers less ground, I'd have to say Perry Hinton's Statistics Explained is a better book. Covers all the basic tests, gives better examples and goes into the maths a bit more while still managing to be more accessible.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So far so good. 22 July 2011
By Douglas
Format:Paperback
Not finished reading yet but so far so good. As well as core statistics, the author has a practical understanding of problems involved, including gathering and data management.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wait for the second edition. 3 Mar 2009
By Bruce Forte - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
On the one hand I like the book because of its scope and the overall presentation. What I find disturbing is the high amount of errors in all kinds of content (typos, formular errors, table errors, false figures, and so on). Also not great is that the solutions to the problems are given right after the problem itself so it is really hard not to look at the solution before starting to work on the problem. Somebody corrects all those errors and this is a great book on statistics. Right now the errata page at the publisher's web site is just too long.
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy 26 Jan 2009
By Michael J. Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is a reasonably well written introduction to a variety of useful statistical concepts. It is far more readable than the average stats textbook. However, there clearly was some sort of failure in the copy editing process. This book is riddled with small, niggling errors which taken individually aren't so bad, but as a group are very annoying. These errors are not just typos; figures are mislabeled and referenced, the worked through examples contain mathematical errors (including miscalculation of means, etc.), and at least one formula is simply incorrect! These annoying quirks keep this book from being the clear concise text it could be, and no book can be a "Quick Reference" if you can't be sure that what you are looking up is correct! That said, if you take the time as a reader to work through the examples and make sure that the each formula makes mathematical sense, you can get something out of this book.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Most Errors Have Been Corrected. 19 Jun 2009
By Tom Vyse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I recently received this book and immediately went to the O'Reilly errata [...]There was an extensive list, but after going through it I found that about 80% of the errors noted on it had already been corrected despite the fact that the book I received is still marked "First Edition".

I have yet to read the book, so please take my 4 star rating with a grain of salt, but I had to include that to publish this review. That being said, the fear of excessive typos and errors should no longer deter you from considering this book.
57 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of statistics book 3 Aug 2008
By calvinnme - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is probably not what you're expecting since most O'Reilly Nutshell books assume you already have thorough knowledge of a subject and you are just looking for "cues" in case you forget something. This book is more of a "Head First" type of book in that it assumes no prior knowledge of the subject. Since O'Reilly is planning a Head First book on Statistics, I'd like to see the difference between this book and that one.

This book focuses on using and understanding statistics in a research or applications context, not as a discrete set of mathematical techniques but as part of the process of reasoning with numbers. It integrates the discussion of issues such as measurement and data management into an introductory statistics text. It serves as an introductory statistics book that is compact, inexpensive, and easy for beginners to understand without being condescending or overly simplistic.

The audience for this book includes students taking introductory statistics classes in high schools, colleges, and universities, professionals who need to learn statistics as part of their current jobs, and finally people who are interested in learning about statistics out of intellectual curiosity.

The book focuses on statistical reasoning. In particular, the book focuses on thinking about data, and using statistics to aid in that process.

The book is organized into four parts: introductory material (Chapters 1-6) that lays the necessary foundation for the chapters that follow; elementary inferential statistical techniques (Chapters 7-11); more advanced techniques (Chapters 12-16); and specialized techniques (Chapters 17-19). The following is the detailed table of contents:

Chapter 1, Basic Concepts of Measurement - Discusses foundational issues for statistics, including levels of measurement, operationalization, proxy measurement, random and systematic error, measures of agreement, and types of bias. Statistics demonstrated include percent agreement and kappa.

Chapter 2, Probability - Introduces the basic vocabulary and laws of probability, including trials, events, independence, mutual exclusivity, the addition and multiplication laws, and conditional probability. Procedures demonstrated include calculation of basic probabilities, permutations and combinations, and Bayes's theorem.

Chapter 3, Data Management - Discusses practical issues in data management, including procedures to troubleshoot an existing file, methods for storing data electronically, data types, and missing data.

Chapter 4, Descriptive Statistics and Graphics - Explains the differences between descriptive and inferential statistics and between populations and samples, and introduces common measures of central tendency and variability and frequently used graphs and charts. Statistics demonstrated include mean, median, mode, range, interquartile range, variance, and standard deviation. Graphical methods demonstrated include frequency tables, bar charts, pie charts, Pareto charts, stem and leaf plots, boxplots, histograms, scatterplots, and line graphs.

Chapter 5, Research Design - Discusses observational and experimental studies, common elements of good research designs, the steps involved in data collection, types of validity, and methods to limit or eliminate the influence of bias.

Chapter 6, Critiquing Statistics Presented by Others - Offers guidelines for reviewing the use of statistics, including a checklist of questions to ask of any statistical presentation and examples of when legitimate statistical procedures may be manipulated to appear to support questionable conclusions.

Chapter 7, Inferential Statistics - Introduces the basic concepts of inferential statistics, including probability distributions, independent and dependent variables and the different names under which they are known, common sampling designs, the central limit theorem, hypothesis testing, Type I and Type II error, confidence intervals and p-values, and data transformation. Procedures demonstrated include converting raw scores to Z-scores, calculation of binomial probabilities, and the square-root and log data transformations.

Chapter 8, The t-Test - Discusses the t-distribution, the different types of t-tests, and the influence of effect size on power in t-tests. Statistics demonstrated include the one-sample t-test, the two independent samples t-test, the two repeated measures t-test, and the unequal variance t-test.

Chapter 9, The Correlation Coefficient - Introduces the concept of association with graphics displaying different strengths of association between two variables, and discusses common statistics used to measure association. Statistics demonstrated include Pearson's product-moment correlation, the t-test for statistical significance of Pearson's correlation, the coefficient of determination, Spearman's rank-order coefficient, the point-biserial coefficient, and phi.

Chapter 10, Categorical Data - Reviews the concepts of categorical and interval data, including the Likert scale, and introduces the R x C table. Statistics demonstrated include the chi-squared tests for independence, equality of proportions, and goodness of fit, Fisher's exact test, McNemar's test, gamma, Kendall's tau-a, tau-b, and tau-c, and Somers's d.

Chapter 11, Nonparametric Statistics - Discusses when to use nonparametric rather than parametric statistics, and presents nonparametric statistics for between-subjects and within-subjects designs. Statistics demonstrated include the Wilcoxon Rank Sum and Mann-Whitney U tests, the median test, the Kruskal-Wallis H test, the Wilcoxon matched pairs signed rank test, and the Friedman test.

Chapter 12, Introduction to the General Linear Model - Introduces linear regression and ANOVA through the concept of the General Linear Model, and discusses assumptions made when using these designs. Statistical procedures demonstrated include simple (bivariate) regression, one-way ANOVA, and post-hoc testing.

Chapter 13, Extensions of Analysis of Variance - Discusses more complex ANOVA designs. Statistical procedures demonstrated include two-way and three-way ANOVA, MANOVA, ANCOVA, repeated measures ANOVA, and mixed designs.

Chapter 14, Multiple Linear Regression - Extends the ideas introduced in Chapter 12 to models with multiple predictors. Topics covered include relationships among predictor variables, standardized coefficients, dummy variables, methods of model building, and violations of assumptions of linear regression, including nonlinearity, autocorrelation, and heteroscedasticity.

Chapter 15, Other Types of Regression - Extends the technique of regression to data with binary outcomes and nonlinear models, and discusses the problem of overfitting a model.

Chapter 16, Other Statistical Techniques - Demonstrates several advanced statistical procedures, including factor analysis, cluster analysis, discriminant function analysis, and multidimensional scaling, including discussion of the types of problems for which each technique may be useful.

Chapter 17, Business and Quality Improvement Statistics - Demonstrates statistical procedures commonly used in business and quality improvement contexts. Analytical and statistical procedures covered include construction and use of simple and composite indexes, time series, the minimax, maximax, and maximin decision criteria, decision making under risk, decision trees, and control charts.

Chapter 18, Medical and Epidemiological Statistics - Introduces concepts and demonstrates statistical procedures particularly relevant to medicine and epidemiology. Concepts and statistics covered include the definition and use of ratios, proportions, and rates, measures of prevalence and incidence, crude and standardized rates, direct and indirect standardization, measures of risk, confounding, the simple and Mantel-Haenszel odds ratio, and precision, power, and sample size calculations.

Chapter 19, Educational and Psychological Statistics - Introduces concepts and statistical procedures commonly used in the fields of education and psychology. Concepts and procedures demonstrated include percentiles, standardized scores, methods of test construction, the true score model of classical test theory, reliability of a composite test, measures of internal consistency including coefficient alpha, and procedures for item analysis. An overview of item response theory is also provided.

Two appendixes cover topics that are a necessary background to the material covered in the main text, and a third provides references to supplemental reading.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Book - Highly Underrated 3 Feb 2010
By A. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have read many popular statistics books and textbooks. This is quite possibly the best-written book of it's type, a concise introduction/review, and introductory (first-year stats) reference. I'm writing this because I don't think the existing reviews generally give this book enough credit. What's so good about it?

(1) The writing: very clear and concise. But not so concise so as to be difficult or "mysterious." When reading the book, there there several times when I read something, didn't quite understand the point, was certain that the author had too quickly skimmed over the topic, only to turn the page and see a clear two or three paragraph explanation of the point I was trying to understand. The level at which the material is covered is just perfect for this sort of use: not too short so as to leave something out; not too long so as to make topics too complicated. The questions at the end of chapters are "just right" too. They are well chosen, clear, not superficial, but not too difficult.

(2) The organization of topics is very well done. The flow is very natural, and lends itself to effective and efficient coverage of the material.

This may not be the best book to learn statistics from scratch (perhaps a bit too concise, but actually still not too bad), and certainly not a good choice if you are looking for coverage or a reference for advanced topics. But if you are looking for a review, and perhaps an easy to read basic statistics reference, it can't be beat. Quite possibly the best book for this purpose available.

Hope this helps...
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