Starting Statistics (Book Review by Mehdi Riazi)

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    Mehdi Riazi
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    Burdess, N. (2010). Starting statistics: A short, clear, guide. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage.
    X, 187, £ 19.9

    The book includes five parts. The first part is “measurement”, the second
    “standardization”, the third “correlation”, the fourth “sampling and estimation”
    and the fifth “hypothesis testing.” The book is a good one for those who would
    like to learn basic applied statistics in a simple and understandable language.
    It is a clear guide to statistics and describes and explains statistical issues
    in a plain language without using complicated mathematical formulations which
    is customary in such books. There are already many books on statistics in the
    market oriented to social sciences; some examples are Burns (2000), Guilford
    and Fruchter (1973; 1978), Hatch and Farhady (1982), Kirk (1990) and Sprinthall
    (1987). However, Starting Statistics follows a new approach to simplify
    complicated statistical concepts. The five parts in the book are organized
    around two simple but important types of information—categorical and numerical
    which represent the levels of measurement. All five parts of the book follow
    the same outline breaking down the general themes into specific chapters. The
    first chapter in each part introduces the topic and the next chapters relate and
    describe the topic in terms of categories and numbers. Different chapters in
    different sections also follow the same pattern with an “overview” section
    briefly outlining the major parts of the chapter followed by explanation of the
    topic with useful and understandable tables. An interesting section in each
    chapter is “Behind the Stats” box which uses real-life stories and excerpts
    from reliable sources to convey a statistical issue in a very direct way. While
    I found the whole book very user-friendly in teaching statistical concepts, chapter
    11 is especially interesting as it provides an overview of how to estimate
    population mean based on a sample mean. Part five of the book, hypothesis
    testing, should also be very interesting to those who would like to use
    quantitative research methods to test hypotheses. This final section of the
    book is particularly important as “hypothesis testing” is a technical and
    controversial issue in research sometimes wrongly conceptualized and used even
    by some experienced researchers. The final part of the book clarifies what a
    hypothesis is and how a quantitative research design should plan for testing
    hypotheses. One drawback of the book is, however, that there no exercises at
    the end of the chapters. This is a real deficiency of the book especially
    because the author considers one of the functions of the book to be used as a
    set textbook for stat classes. To fulfill this pedagogical functionality
    students and teachers certainly expect some sorts of exercises and pedagogical
    tasks at the end of each chapter to consolidate the topic discussed in the
    chapter. I hope the author complement the book with necessary exercises in
    subsequent editions.

    References:

    Burns, R. (2000). Introduction to Research
    Methods
    , 4th edition, Longman.

    Guilford,
    J.P. & Fruchter, B. (1973, 1978). Fundamental
    Statistics in Psychology and Education
    (6th ed.)normal””>. New York: McGraw Hill.

    Hatch,
    E. & Farhady, H. (1982). Research
    Design and Statistics for Applied Linguistics
    . Rowley, Massachusetts:
    Newbury House.

    Kirk,
    R.E. (1990). Statistics: An Introduction
    (3rd edition). Orlando, FL: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

    Sprinthall,
    R.C. (1987). Basic Statistical Analysis.
    2nd edition. Englewood, Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, INC.

    Reviewed by:

    Mehdi Riazi

    Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University, Australia

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