Tag Archives: Research Methods

eHealth governance: Google, dot-health and privatizing the Internet

On February 10th, 2015, Google announced the development of a new feature in their research engine to guide users towards sound evidence-based health information. It will take the form of a “knowledge graph” , an encyclopaedia providing users with information about an illness: from common symptoms to general treatment options [1]. Most users have seen knowledge graphs before when searching through Google, usually about a celebrity, a country or a historic event. The information featured in this graph comes from Wikipedia, Google Images and other diverse sources of information that Google is compiling using a clever search algorithm to judge the relevance of the source. Continue reading eHealth governance: Google, dot-health and privatizing the Internet

Introduction to PIAAC – measuring adult literacy and skills

The Programme for International Adult Assessment of Competencies (PIAAC) – the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD ) also calls it the Survey of Adult Skills – is an international effort to assess human skills and further develop our understanding of human capital, started in 2012 in 22 countries (listed below) and coordinated by the OECD. The list of participating countries will be extended to new participants during this decennial as new rounds of the PIAAC assessment are being implemented (participants of the second round of PIAAC are also listed).

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Foreword – Volume 4, Issue 1

The etymology of “statistics” points to the Latin verb stare (= to stand) as the far origin of the word. In addition to the meaning to stand, stare gave a handful of derivative words. More specifically, it gave the words “status”, or the “state” of something or someone, and the word “State”, which designates the government. In late Latin, the adjective statisticum was present in the administrative discourse to refer to something “that concerns the State”. This latter word gave today’s word “statistics” (Cellard, 1980). Statistics now refer intuitively to a quantitative (and positivist) approach to our scientific quest for knowledge, in opposition to a qualitative (and interpretive) approach.

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Statistics in the Service of Health

Author: Constantine DASKALAKIS

Professor Constantine Daskalakis is Associate Professor at the Division of Biostatistics, Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia, PA, USA), and Chair, Section on Teaching of Statistics in the Health Sciences at the American Statistical Association.


The word statistics was first used to describe a set of aggregated data (commonly demographic observations, such as births and deaths), and later came to also denote the mathematical body of science that pertains to the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data and uncertainty (Davidian & Louis, 2002; Dodge, 2006; Moses, 1986). For those interested in the historical developments in probability and statistics, there are many excellent books and reviews (Fienberg, 1992; Gigerenzer et al., 1989; Stigler, 1986). However, as John Tukey once said, “the best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone else’s backyard” (Leonhardt, 2000). Yet, there has been little systematic work on the impact of the application of statistics in various scientific disciplines.

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Education and Health: Building Indicators in International Comparison

Author: Patrice DE BROUCKER

Patrice de Broucker is Chair, OECD Network on Labour Market, Economic and Social Outcomes of Learning.


Nowadays, we often analyze the benefits of education as a sesame to access employment – the higher your level of education and better your field of study, the better your chances of getting quickly a stable, well paid and rewarding job. Surely this is important and it is a consideration that nobody can ignore when it comes to making a choice of a pathway through school and a career. But it would be inappropriate to think of education and its role in life only in such terms. Education is a source of many other benefits both for the individual and for society.

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Objectivity, Subjectivity and Statistical Evidence

Author: Michael EVANS

Professor Michael Evans is President, Statistical Society of Canada, and Professor at the Department of Statistics, University of Toronto.


Statistics has applications in many fields. The point behind all of these applications is that there are questions for which there is no obvious way that we can obtain definitive answers. The reason for this lies in variation, which can arise for many reasons, and this leads to uncertainty. The health sciences provides an excellent example of this as the variation among patients, such as physical, genetic and lifestyle characteristics, lead to different responses to a treatment for a health problem. We are then left with the questions of whether or not a treatment works and, if so, how well.

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