In the production of science, experimental design is one of the hardest steps in the chain. It’s really where a researcher sets himself up for success or failure. In “How To Avoid Seven Deadly Sins in the Study of Behavior” Manfred Milinski [Advances in the Study of Behavior, Vol. 26 (1997), pp. 159-180] offers his opinion on what he sees as the most common errors. He lists:
- Unjustified conclusions are made from observational (i.e., correlational) data
- Data are not independent (“pseudoreplication”)
- Treatments are confounded by time and sequence effects
- No effort is made to avoid observer bias.
- Potential artifacts arise when animals are not accustomed to experimental procedures
- Unsuitable controls are used
- An attempt is made to “prove” the null hypothesis with small samples.
A later article will explore why the layperson should also be aware of these sins before coming to conclusions about dog behavior.
One thought on “How To Avoid Seven Deadly Sins in the Study of Behavior”
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