Statistics for Biologists

There is no disputing the importance of statistical analysis in biological research, but too often it is considered only after an experiment is completed, when it may be too late.

This collection highlights important statistical issues that biologists should be aware of and provides practical advice to help them improve the rigor of their work.

Nature Methods' Points of Significance column on statistics explains many key statistical and experimental design concepts. Other resources include an online plotting tool and links to statistics guides from other publishers.

Image Credit: Erin DeWalt

A selection of additional useful resources related to statistics and data reporting. Links to external sites are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only

Box plot generation tool - BoxPlotR

As described in an Editorial in Nature Methods, the ubiquitous bar charts in research studies are appropriate for data comprised of counts but for the more commonly appearing sampled data it is more appropriate to use dot/scatter plots, mean-and-error plots or box plots (influenced by the number of data points available). Proper use of bar charts and box plots is discussed in Points of View: Bar charts and box plots and the design and interpretation of box plots is discussed in Points of Significance: Visualizing samples with box plots. An online plotting tool called BoxPlotR allows researchers to easily generate approriate plots for their data, including box, violin and bean plots; or, when the number of data points is insufficient, scatter plots.

Resources by other publishers

Practical guides about experimental design and statistical analysis of research data provided by other publishers. All articles were free access at the time these resources were added to this list.


The Lancet

ILAR Journal