Statistical Literacy and Ethical Neuroscience

August 23, 2018 - 2.30-5.00pm
Level 5 Seminar Room, Kenneth Myer Building (144), University of Melbourne


Statistical Literacy and Ethical Neuroscience

Prof Rochelle E Tractenberg

Statistics is a dynamic and diverse discipline with which many other disciplines, including neuroscience, may have a love-hate relationship. While new automated analytic methods can exploit massive amounts of data, the interpretation—and, possibly more importantly, the replication—of results from these methods are challenging without adequate statistical literacy. Statistical literacy is a learnable, improvable, skill set, which was outlined recently in a new, developmental, model of statistical literacy that reflects the complexity of reasoning and habits of mind that practicing scientists, and those who work with data for a living, need to cultivate in order to recognize, choose, and interpret statistical methods. Without discussing formulas, and without the confound of software varieties, this workshop will focus on quantitative thinking across and throughout the scientific method. The purpose of the workshop is to introduce the knowledge, skills, and abilities that comprise statistical literacy, and to have participants demonstrate (using their own research interests and work), their integration of content and substantive knowledge (neuroscience) with statistical reasoning, including identifying and justifying the choice of statistical method for research questions of different types.Throughout the workshop, the ethical implications of *failures* to attend to statistical features of neuroscience will be highlighted (these failures will include the five that were introduced in the talk earlier that day). Participants will be able to continue to cultivate and document their statistical literacy as it grows beyond the end of the workshop.


The workshop will be suitable for anyone who is a scientist (or preparing to be one) – at any stage of career. Prof Tractenberg will emphasise the development of self-assessment skills, and well as how to integrate this thinking into the training of students. Everyone can grow their statistical literacy so all are welcome!

The workshop will be suitable for scientists from various domains, not just neuroscience.

It is assumed that participants will have attended the ‘Unexpected’ Ethical Challenges in Neuroscience talk beforehand. You will also be sent some reading materials before the event. The workshop will consist of a presentation with some interactive and small group/  large group discussion, so you are not required to bring you computer.

To ensure adequate time is available to each of the researchers participating, it is open to just 18 attendees on a ‘first in’ basis.