Reading Statistics and Research, Book Review Example
Words: 2151Book Review
The present paper presents the critical review of the book written by one of the distinguished and honorable US university professors, Schuyler Huck; his book published in 2012 is called Reading Statistics and Research (6th ed.). Huck’s (2012) book is the applied and theoretical work that has become the reader’s premium reference source on research statistics applied in different social science fields such as medicine, psychology, public health, business, etc. The book may help both people conducting their own research studies and common readers who critique the results of Huck’s investigations (Huck, 2012).
The book provides new information, answers to confusing questions, and author’s insights into statistical reasoning. Besides, the work expresses Huck’s (2012) appreciation for the art of doing research and statistics appropriately. The book suggests the following Huck’s (2012) thesis embodied in this statement: better understanding of research and statistics can be achieved through in-depth apprehension of relevant concepts (Huck, 2012). In order to confirm the thesis, Huck (2012) covers numerous topics in his book related to descriptive statistics, reliability and validity, correlation, hypothesis testing, factor analysis, etc. All covered information helps the author to provide various readers (from students to scholars) with comprehensive information of how to read, understand, and critically evaluate the statistical results provided by technical research reports. Overall, in his work, the author reflects his concerns for improving statistical instruction and assisting research consumers to evaluate research reports in his journal articles, books, convention presentation, and website (Huck, 2012).
The readers’ general perception of the author’s book should be presented within the framework of this paper. One may agree that Huck’s (2012) book is a beneficial reader’s guide or handbook on statistics providing the essential insight into the statistical research results. This general opinion about the author’s book is proved by the fact that Huck (2012) explains clearly what statistics and its results actually mean, how they are interpreted, and in which way they should be understood. The genre (mainly, handbook or guide) of the book is evident, since understanding “people’s need to critically evaluate research claims”, the author focuses on the comprehensive presentation of all relevant information through simple definitions, summary of main ideas, list of main points, and his commentaries related to the topic in each chapter (Huck, 2012, p. xvii).
The work is written from the point of view of the person who possesses in-depth knowledge and acquired skills in the field of research statistics. Although the book is based on the scientifically proved evidence, the manner of the information presentation remains relatively simple. Overall, using academic language, Huck (2012) reveals in which way the statistical information and research results should be apprehended and critically evaluated (this point actually presents the main aim of the book) in the manner accessible even for common readers.
The author’s style is formal, non-intimidating, and at the same time friendly. Although Huck’s (2012) manner of the information presentation is mostly suits the intended audience (in particular, students studying statistics and academic researchers), the book does not confuse the ordinary public. One may admit that Huck’s (2012) narrating style helps to perceive the information presented in the book in an easy and comprehensive way.
The author presents the information in a clear manner paying attention to strengthening his arguments with scientific evidence. To be more specific, all concepts presented in the book are clearly defined. Huck’s (2012) ideas are developed logically, and in a properly organized way. For example, when Huck (2012) tries to reveal the essence of the “bivariate correlation” concept, he starts with the introduction to this concept through the bivariate nature of statistical procedures, and then proceeds with the detailed explanation of the notions (such as relationship in correlation, scatter plots, and correlation coefficient) associated with this phenomenon in order to present it thoroughly; finally, Huck (2012) illustrates the concept with real-life, empirical examples (p. 44).
All essential points are presented, explained, and supported with strong arguments that serve to prove the author’s assumptions. For example, in the chapter dedicated to the reliability and validity of the research statistical results, Huck (2012) provides an in-depth understanding of the “test-retest reliability coefficient” (p. 69). The author describes the mechanism of its work with the help of well-grounded arguments providing some examples of test-retest reliability illustrated in the particular sources. For example, when the concept is introduced, Huck (2012) writes, “with a test–retest approach to reliability, the resulting coefficient addresses the issue of consistency, or stability, over time” (p. 69). Then he refers to the recently published academic articles by Tremblay, Richer, Lachance, and Cote (2010) and Lee, Kilbreath, Singh, Zeman, and Davis (2010). Huck (2012) concludes the paragraph with the following idea: “for this reason, the test–retest reliability coefficient is frequently referred to as the coefficient of stability” (p. 69). One may see that this way of the information presentation allows the author to prove his assumption: test-retest reliability is mostly associated with serves the coefficient of stability.
The majority of the areas related to the topic are covered for the sake of Huck’s (2012) achievement of the purpose. However, some areas remain uncovered, since the book focuses mostly on the statistical data presented in social sciences. The reference to numerous scholarly sources, presentation of scientifically based information, and presence of well-grounded arguments point to the fact that the level of the book authority is relatively high (Huck, 2012).
The author’s logic in the information presentation is evident. The book is well-organized because the sequence of the chapters allows the author to overview the topic in a consistent way giving readers an opportunity to make a smooth transition from the simple to complex bodies of knowledge. For example, Huck (2012) explains what reliability and validity mean only after he reveals the concept of bivariate correlation; this way, the chapter “Bivariate Correlations” is followed by another one, “Reliability and Validity” (p. 44, 68).
In addition, Huck (2012) prefers presenting the material from the general information to peculiar notions. For example, in his second chapter, Huck (2012) explains the basics of descriptive statistics, and only after the general presentation, he proceeds to “the univariate case” (p. 18). Overall, the logic in delivering information to the readers guarantees that the book along with all information in it is perceived in a proper way because the scientific details related to statistics and research are presented in a clear, simple, and comprehensive way (Huck, 2012).
The mentioned level of authority helps Huck (2012) to remain fair and accurate in his presentation of the information related to the statistics and research. Neither distortion nor exaggeration of the data can be identified. At the same time, the material related to the topic is a bit diminished because not all areas of the application of statistical results are covered. Overall, accuracy of all information presented in the book is evident, and cannot be underestimated (Huck, 2012). Huck (2012) presents the same information on statistics and research that is presented in the relevant sources. This way, when he talks about the foundations of inferential statistics, he refers to the articles written by Georgiades (2009) and Patton, Nobles, and Fox (2010) in order to prove his thoughts. This accuracy positively influences the book’s and author’s images in the readers’ eyes.
The book’s format and all related elements included in it aid readers’ understanding of the author’s topic. The layout and typography meet the author’s aim to provide the comprehensive knowledge related to the understanding of statistical research findings and evaluation of research reports with statistical information. Huck’s (2012) book looks attractive, since the cover (on which many figures are presented) partly reflects the essence of the book, contents are well-organized, and the sub-topics are well-structured. In addition, the typographic details help to comprehend new information paying attention to specific terms; the convenient font, clear divisions of the sections, and words in bold are some of the typographic instruments used by the author to deliver the information in the most effective way. The book excerpts such as figures, tables, and text passages also serve to ensure readers’ understanding of the book (Huck, 2012).
The back matter of Huck’s (2012) book is another contribution to the author’s success in delivering the topic-related information. The index is accurate, since all pages and key terms used in the book are presented correctly. One of the final parts, “Credits”, mentions all primary and secondary sources which Huck (2012) used in the creation of his book (p. 552). Over thirty references are presented; one may find books, articles, and electronic academic sources among them. Huck (2012) used sources mostly to prove his assumptions, to make his arguments stronger, and to attach scientific significance to his work. No serious omission related to the book’s back matter can be identified.
Huck (2012) accomplishes his book with the conclusions; at the end of the book, readers realize that the author has achieved his aim. The main results of Huck’s (2012) book are of dual nature, since they are destined for both those who receive the research claims and those do research themselves. Overall, the author has revealed that statistical data and research results should be understood from a special perspective because particular notions should be taken into account; this finding is obviously helpful for both target groups. In addition, the author clearly found out that a great difference exists between what researchers are entitled to say after their data analysis and what their analysis actually does say. Correspondingly, Huck (2012) proved that statistical significance differs greatly from the practical one, and only effect size indices should be taken into account ultimately (Huck, 2012).
The book’s part “Epilogue” represents Huck’s (2012) minor conclusions in the form of warnings that need to be mentioned (Huck, 2012, p. 529). According to the author, “you must protect yourself against those who use research to intimidate others in discussions (and in arguments) over what is the best idea, the best practice, the best solution to a problem, or the best anything” (Huck, 2012, p. 529). This warning suggests that if one encounters people who prove their points with the help of the research findings, he or she should ask them politely to tell more about the investigations to which they refer. The second warning of the author is presented by the phrase “be impressed with researchers who replicate their own investigations – and even more impressed when they encourage others to execute such replications” (Huck, 2012, p. 530). In other words, one should take into consideration that if conducted the second time (even under the same conditions), the same investigation may not necessarily have replicated research findings; the author suggests that replications confirm the credibility and truthfulness of the research data. Finally, the author concluded, “you must protect yourself from overzealous researchers who regard publication or being a convention speaker as more important than replication” (Huck, 2012, p. 530). Hence, each person should know that the most credible and truthful statistical research data should be reproducible. The author’s warnings provide the idea that according to Huck (2012), the further work is probably needed in order to know more about the mistakes taken by statistical researchers during their investigations.
Overall, the author’s conclusions and warnings imply that Huck makes the distance between himself and the readers almost invisible. Although the style is mostly formal, the author’s non-intimidating and friendly tone ensures the readers’ understanding of the topic, and increases the desirable effect of the book. Moreover, the author does not use boring, complex, long, and terminology-rich sentences; Huck prefers resorting to the everyday language sometimes enriched with anecdotes (Huck, 2012). These facts suggest that this mixed style and a unique manner of the information presentation represent a peculiar Huck’s feature as a talented narrator whose assumptions and proofs seem persuasive. Overall, this style helps to produce the unforgettable impressions in readers because it prevents them from falling asleep as it may occur during reading most works on statistics.
Huck’s book is evidently distinguished among the author’s other published works. Against the background of the author’s earlier publications that were mostly dedicated only to the side effects of statistical research findings and analyses (such as rival hypotheses, statistical misconceptions and illusions, etc.), the present book under critical revision looks special. In contrast to Huck’s other books, it provides the author’s both positive and negative attitudes to the statistic investigations; in addition, the topic of this book is broader, and the author’s evaluation seems more unbiased.
On the basis of the information mentioned in the present critical review of the book, one may arrive at the following conclusions. Huck’s reader-friendly book demonstrates the best way to understand and critically evaluate the reports with statistical data applied mostly to social sciences. Huck’s skillful narration makes the topic simple and easy for readers’ understanding. Overall, the author’s comprehensive and simple presentation of the basics of research statistics enriched with scientifically based evidence makes the book both authoritative and interesting.
Huck, S. W. (2012). Reading Statistics and Research (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
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