A Promising Textbook? I Don’t Think So

Updated 30 May 2019. A few tweaks to the text below. I have now had a chance to have a squiz at the book itself. Bob has also seen the book and given a quick opinion. I am confirmed in my view below that, alas, the book is not a good intro textbook for what we think of as the new statistics.

I was excited to read about a book titled The new statistics with R: An introduction for biologists (Hector, 2015). I was reading the book reviews in Significance magazine. (It’s a great magazine. Pity about the title!)

But, very unfortunately, the brief review was not positive, describing the book as “scattergun and superficial” and as “containing typos and errors that may mislead”, and saying that it “misses the mark”. The review is behind a paywall, but the info about it is here. (It, like all the magazine’s contents, will become open access 12 months after publication.)

I confess that I haven’t seen the book itself, but you can read some pages here on Google books, or here on Amazon (click ‘look inside’). There are a few reader reviews on Amazon, which can be summarised, politely, as ‘mixed’.

Of course, I was eager to know what the author meant by ‘the new statistics’. Here’s the answer, on p. 5:

The last sentence looked promising. Also on p. 5, the author writes “I have tried to take an estimation-based approach that focuses on estimates and confidence intervals wherever possible. … I have also tried to emphasize the use of graphs for exploring data and presenting results. I have tried to encourage the use of a priori contrasts…” Excellent!

From the Contents, I could see that in Chapter 3 (Comparing groups. The Student’s t-test) there is a section titled Confidence intervals, likewise in Chapter 4 (Linear Regression). Chapter 5 is titled Comparisons Using Estimates and Intervals. As stated earlier, there seems to be no mention of meta-analysis.

Then the book quickly moves on to analysis of covariance, maximum likelihood, the general linear model, mixed-effects models, and even the general linear mixed-effects model.

As I say, I haven’t read the book itself. With what I can see, I’m not hopeful that it’s a good intro textbook, with a focus on estimation and Open Science, suitable for psychology and other social and behavioural science beginning students. Please let me know if you have used it in teaching. Thanks.


Hector, A. (2015). The new statistics with R: An introduction for biologists. Oxford: OUP.

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