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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