I am looking for studies and experiments in the literature that I can share with undergraduate students in an intro statistics course. I do not expect students to understand everything, and I plan to only have them read the abstract or other short excerpts and then discuss. They must be reasonably readable papers and apply concepts from introductory statistics (experimental design principles, confidence intervals, p-values, linear regression, etc).

I would like to collect some examples where the conclusions are strong and others that are flawed. I would also prefer subject matter that is important and useful.


2 Answers 2


I customarily use: Gillison, Maura L., et al. "Prevalence of oral HPV infection in the United States, 2009-2010." Jama 307.7 (2012): 693-703. This has a nice mix of CI's, P-values, and statements about distribution shapes (bimodal) in the abstract.

At one point I used this article: Peck, Peggy, "Long Work Hours Increase Hypertension Risk", MedPage Today. This had the intimate connection that my mother (school nurse) asked me to help interpret this for her as part of her continuing education credits, and many of my students tend to be nursing students or related fields (physical therapy, etc.)

Other stuff from JAMA I've used in passing or to make exam questions:

  • Bobrow, "Chest Compression–Only CPR by Lay Rescuers and Survival From Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest"
  • Joynt, "Quality of Care and Patient Outcomes in Critical Access Rural Hospitals"
  • Kayne, "Progression of Left Ventricular Diastolic Dysfunction and Risk of Heart Failure"
  • Snitz, "Ginkgo biloba for Preventing Cognitive Decline in Older Adults"
  • Sulheim, "Helmet Use and Risk of Head Injuries in Alpine Skiers and Snowboarders"
  • Benson, "Head and Neck Injuries Among Ice Hockey Players Wearing Full Face Shields vs Half Face Shields"

I did something very similar as a project when I taught AP statistics a few years ago. It was relatively effective and my students left that class with that project as one of the ones they felt was the most impactful, since it showed them how statistics was actually used in real life.

I believe that the most recent topics for this project were linear regression and experimental design, and I generally asked my students to summarize the methods and results. My goal was to have papers that did not take a large amount of technical knowledge to understand what, to some extent, the study was measuring and how the experiments or observations were carried out. I wasn't fully satisfied with the papers that I found, but some that served the purposes I wanted them to. It should be noted that I taught at a "medical field focus high school." The papers I ended up using included:

Is grip strength a predictor for total muscle strength in healthy children, adolescents, and young adults?

The Prevalence of Dental Anxiety in Children from Low-income Families and its Relationship to Personality Traits

Validity of self-reported height and weight in a Japanese workplace population.

However, I'm not sure if you'd consider this subject matter "important and useful." One other possible paper that you could use snippets of that is well-known, relatively accessible, and has straightforward statistics :

Cognitive and Attentional Mechanisms in Delay of Gratification

which I don't think is "the" Stanford marshmallow experiment of lore, but could be potentially more interesting to students interested in psychology. In general, older psychological research seems to be the most accessible to students without domain specific knowledge.


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