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Free Content Experiments with Freshwater Invertebrate Zooplanktivores: Quality of Statistical Analyses

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We examined the statistical analyses of experimental data in 95 papers published during 1966–1990 on the ecology, physiology, and behavior of freshwater invertebrate zooplanktivores.

Serious statistiical errors were found in 51% of the papers. The frequencies of particular types of errors were as follows: sacrificial pseudoreplication (31%), simple pseudoreplication (11%), temporal pseudoreplication (7%), pseudofactorialism (5%), misuse of one-tailed tests (4%), and failure to use log-transformation in multi-way ANOVA when appropriate (9%). Several of these frequencies are much higher when calculated on the basis of the number of papers where a given type of error is possible. For example, pseudofactorialism occurred in 28% of the papers using multi-way ANOVA, the only type of paper for which this error is possible. We hope that this exhaustive review of a very specific but important area of plankton research will create a positive feedback network among this core group of researchers. This could so improve the use of statistics in future plankton studies that this field could serve as a model for other areas of biology equally plagued by improper statistical analysis.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1993-07-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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