Enabling students to understand and analyse contemporary issues in science and technology

A2 Establishing causal links Activities & Weblinks

Activities

The following activities develop ideas about establishing causal links. These ideas are also referred to in other activities.

3.1 Exam style question - drugs and the brain
3.2 Searching for needles in a DNA stack
3.2 Exam style question – anti-social friends
3.3 Sleep for success
3.4 Why is carbon dioxide so important?

Weblinks

Design of cohort and case control studies
A course on evidence based medicine includes a nice set of explanations, with graphics, of the key terms such as double-blind or cohort study from a US university.
http://library.downstate.edu/EBM2/research.htm

Chapter 5 of the publication ‘Identifying the environmental causes of disease’ from the National Academy of Medical Science provides an excellent discussion of different research methods and their advantages and disadvantages. For teachers.
http://www.acmedsci.ac.uk/index.php?pid=99&puid=115

An explanation of epidemiology from the Open University.
http://www.open2.net/sciencetechnologynature/maths/epidemiology.html

More detailed explanation of epidemiology from the BMJ, called ‘epidemiology for the uninitiated’.
http://www.bmj.com/epidem/epid.1.html

Useful definitions and explanations on design of epidemiological studies from NHS choices.
http://www.nhs.uk/news/Pages/Newsglossary.aspx

Set of articles from the James Lind library using historical examples to explain key issues, including bias and meat-analysis
http://www.jameslindlibrary.org/contents.php

Interpretation of data
Explanation of p-values and confidence intervals
http://www.graphpad.com/articles/pvalue.htm

A useful set of pages explaining different ways of calculating and presenting data, from BEEP.
http://www.beep.ac.uk/content/53.0.html

Information on evidence based medicine and how to make decisions about treatments from the British Medical Journal.
http://besthealth.bmj.com/btuk/decision_index.jsp

Series of articles with clear explanations of topics such as bias and confidence intervals from Bandolier.
http://www.medicine.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/painres/download/whatis/What_are_Conf_Inter.pdf

Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science site, with lots of lively articles providing relevant examples of science claims that don’t withstand close examination.
http://www.badscience.net/

Lots of examples of correlation coefficients and the scatterplots they relate to.
http://www.jerrydallal.com/LHSP/corr.htm

Examples of scatterplots where the correlation coefficient may be meaningless. Includes the effects of outliers.
http://www.statsoft.com/textbook/basic-statistics/#Correlationsc

Discussion of how to interpret research on health risks
http://plus.maths.org/issue22/features/medical/

Good explanations on analysing results for journalists.
http://www.robertniles.com/stats/dataanly.shtml