Monthly Archives: February 2017

The journal Methods in Ecology & Evolution has a blog with a number of interesting entries, including:


  1. Jarred Hadfield: There’s Madness in our Methods: Improving inference in ecology and evolution
  2. Flawed Analysis Casts Doubt on Years of Evolution Research
  3. Making Your Research Reproducible with R
  4. Peer Review Week: Should we use double blind peer review? The evidence

Climate Change:

  1. How Should Biologists Measure Climate Change?



  1. How to Synthesize 100 Articles in Under 10 Minutes: Reviewing Big Literature Using ACA (Automated Content Analysis)

Online help for choosing the correct statistical test or model

Recently there have been several digital tools to help researchers select the most appropriate statistical test.  I have not tested any of these but they look promising.

Standard Statistics

Multivariate Statistics

My Basic Decision Tree for Stats

Chapter numbers refer to Whitlock and Shulters Analysis of Biological Data.


Online R and Stats Forums: stackoverflow and beyond

There are several websites where you can post statistics and R questions and other users can post responses.  The two best places for R and stats info are the forum sites stackoverflow  and Cross Validated.  Questions on these sites are often very specific, as are responses.   A sister site where people post questions on academic conduct and reproducibility, among many other things, is Stack Exchange Academia.  Users at ResearchGate also frequently post stats and R related questions.  Questions on these latter two sites are usually broader and answers more opinion based.  There are also numerous videos on YouTube where people describe various R and stats topics.

ON ASKING QUESTIONS ON Stackoverflow & Cross validated.

In general a high quality Stack Overflow (SO) and Cross Validated (CV) question OR answer involves at least a little bit organization, for e thought, and research.  For a question, you should demonstrate that you thought about the problem and tried to solve it.  Ideally you provide code with sample data that allows anyone to replicate the problem you are having (they call this a “reproducible” answer).  People will often post comments asking for clarification (usually these are nice, sometimes they are terse; try not to take it personally; sometimes people are jerks, though!)

In contrast, Stackexchange Academia has a more open culture where more general questions with opinion-based answers are perfectly acceptable.  ResearchGate is the same, and people frequently ask questions as simple as “what is a good for studying ‘x’ or “What does the term ‘y’  mean”?  These types of questions will almost always get useful responses on Researchgate while on SO this type of question would not be well received.  Sometimes you will get less than helpful answers; this site also does not allow you to include code.  Overall, ResearchGate is more like a social media platform and the answer are more often “off the cuff” and so responders may or may not have read your question very carefully.

The official “how to ask a question” info for SO:

And another take:



Here are some of the questions I’ve asked over the last five years.  You can get a sense for what makes a good question, a not so good question, and the types of helpful (and terse) answers you can get.