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Asking Questions in Biology

Asking Questions in Biology

A Guide to Hypothesis Testing, Experimental Design and Presentation in Practical Work and Research Projects
5th Edition

Chris Barnard, Francis Gilbert, Peter Mcgregor

Mar 2017, Paperback, 264 pages
ISBN13: 9781292085999
ISBN10: 1292085991
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The book is an indispensable companion to all students of biology, but particularly those enrolled in courses concerning experimental design, data analysis, hypothesis testing, research methods, or any practical project work.


1 Doing science:

Where do questions come from?

1.1 Science as asking questions

1.2 Basic considerations

1.3 The skill of asking questions

1.4 Where do questions come from?

1.5 What this book is about


2 Asking questions:

The art of framing hypotheses and predictions

2.1 Observation

2.2 Exploratory analysis

2.3 Forming hypotheses

2.4 Summary


3 Answering questions:

What do the results say?

3.1 Confirmatory analysis

3.2 What is statistical significance?

3.3 Significance tests

3.4 Testing hypotheses

3.5 Testing predictions

3.6 Refining hypotheses and predictions

3.7 Summary


4 Presenting information:

How to communicate outcomes and conclusions

4.1 Presenting figures and tables

4.2 Presenting results in the text

4.3 Writing reports

4.4 Writing for a more general readership

4.5 Presenting in person: spoken papers and poster presentations

4.6 Plagiarism

4.7 Summary


Test finder and help guide

Some self-test questions

Appendix I: Table of confidence limits to the median

Appendix II: How to calculate some simple significance tests

Appendix III: Significance tables

Appendix IV: The common codes for the important graphical parameters of R

Answers to self-test questions


Quick test finders

· A range of boxes within the text highlight key concepts, present worked examples spanning topics from ecology, and behaviour to toxicology and parasitology

· Coverage of a range of tests including repeated measures designs, analysis of covariance, multiple regression and principal components analysis

· An easy to use test finder and quick test finder guides

· A set of useful self test questions and answers

· Sections on using online literature databases, plagiarism, presenting findings to a non-scientific audience and ethical considerations

The late Chris Barnard was Professor of Animal Behaviour at Nottingham University. Francis Gilbert is Professor of Ecology at Nottingham University. Peter McGregor is Research Co-ordinator for Science & Natural Environment at Cornwall College.