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Weekly links March 2: quality onions, don’t just try to prove something you already know, jobs cost a lot to create, and more...

David McKenzie's picture
  • Stephanie Lee’s Buzzfeed article “sliced and diced” describes how Cornell’s Brian Wansink generated so many headline-ready studies on healthy eating, with lots of emphasis on p-hacking and multiple testing. Andrew Gelman makes an important point in his discussion “Good research often involves the unexpected; indeed, that’s kinda why we do most of our research in the first place, because we don’t already know the answers. Like Brian Wansink, I gather and analyze data because I want to learn, not because I’m trying to prove something I already know... In her article, Lee wrote: “Ideally, statisticians say, researchers should set out to prove a specific hypothesis before a study begins.” ...I’m a statistician, and I disagree with the above quoted statement for two reasons: 1. I don’t think it’s generally good practice for a researcher to “set out to prove” anything. Once you start a project with the goal of proving something, you’ve already put a direction on your goals, and there’s a risk of closing your mind. So I’d rather say that researchers can set out to investigate a hypothesis, rather than saying they’re setting out to prove it. 2. Some of the best and most important research is done in a spirit of exploration”.... here I think the problem is not in the data exploration (that is, in considering many comparisons) but rather in the reporting. I’d have no problem if Wansink etc. were to perform a thousand analyses on their data, if they’d just report everything they’d done”
  • On the World Bank Jobs blog, David Robalino on how much does it cost to create a job?
  • On the Development Policy job, Stephen Howe on the expensive Pacific – small Pacific islands are huge outliers to Balassa-Samuelson.
  • Job opportunity: The World Bank’s Africa Region Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) seeks a Short-Term Consultant (STC) to provide partner coordination and evaluation design support for gender-informed impact evaluations (IE) and quantitative analytical projects in Nigeria. The STC will work mainly on the IE of a component of the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project’s Women & Youth Empowerment Program (W&YEP) in Nigeria. The STC will also provide support to the development of further IEs.

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