I recently decided to create two blogs as outlets for my research. The first (The Richness of Life) focuses more on the organisms I work with as an ecologist and my general interest as a student of natural history. This blog on Quantitative Ecology stems from my recent obsessive frustration with analyzing various data sets. I have a decent background in the design of ecological experiments but have recently been trying to increase my statistical fluency (see Ellison and Dennis 2010 – Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment). While searching for information on coding in R and WinBUGS, I have utilized a variety of sources including forums and blogs where people have shared their experiences and deciphered cryptic error messages. I also came across two articles on the benefits of blogging as an academic (here and here). Without duplicating everything they wrote, I’ll say that my desire to blog about my research comes from a few different perspectives. First, this is what I spend my time thinking about and it’s nice to share it with like-minded individuals. Second, I hope that this could contribute to fun and productive collaborations. Third, I hope to help people on their own (sometimes painful) journeys in the realm of experimental design and analysis (including statistics and inference). Finally, I believe it will help me as a teacher if I practice articulating my thoughts and questions on these complex subjects.
I will start this first blog with a recommendation of one of my favorite books on data analysis that I’ve come across. Introduction to WinBUGS for Ecologists: Bayesian approach to regression, ANOVA, mixed models and related analyses is an exceptional book for self-teaching and offers a nice introduction to using WinBUGS for analyzing ecological data in a Bayesian framework.