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Statistics in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference (In a Nutshell (O'Reilly)) [Paperback]

by Sarah Boslaugh, Paul Andrew, Dr. Watters
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)


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Book Description

August 1, 2008 0596510497 978-0596510497

Need to learn statistics as part of your job, or want some help passing a statistics course? Statistics in a Nutshell is a clear and concise introduction and reference that's perfect for anyone with no previous background in the subject. This book gives you a solid understanding of statistics without being too simple, yet without the numbing complexity of most college texts.

You get a firm grasp of the fundamentals and a hands-on understanding of how to apply them before moving on to the more advanced material that follows. Each chapter presents you with easy-to-follow descriptions illustrated by graphics, formulas, and plenty of solved examples. Before you know it, you'll learn to apply statistical reasoning and statistical techniques, from basic concepts of probability and hypothesis testing to multivariate analysis.

Organized into four distinct sections, Statistics in a Nutshell offers you:

    Introductory material:
  • Different ways to think about statistics
  • Basic concepts of measurement and probability theory

  • Data management for statistical analysis
  • Research design and experimental design
  • How to critique statistics presented by others


  • Basic inferential statistics:
  • Basic concepts of inferential statistics
  • The concept of correlation, when it is and is not an appropriate measure of association
  • Dichotomous and categorical data
  • The distinction between parametric and nonparametric statistics


  • Advanced inferential techniques:
  • The General Linear Model
  • Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and MANOVA
  • Multiple linear regression


  • Specialized techniques:
  • Business and quality improvement statistics
  • Medical and public health statistics
  • Educational and psychological statistics

Unlike many introductory books on the subject, Statistics in a Nutshell doesn't omit important material in an effort to dumb it down. And this book is far more practical than most college texts, which tend to over-emphasize calculation without teaching you when and how to apply different statistical tests.

With Statistics in a Nutshell, you learn how to perform most common statistical analyses, and understand statistical techniques presented in research articles. If you need to know how to use a wide range of statistical techniques without getting in over your head, this is the book you want.



Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sarah Boslaugh holds a PhD in Research and Evaluation from the City University of New York and have been working as a statistical analyst for 15 years, in a variety of professional settings, including the New York City Board of Education, the Institutional Research Office of the City University of New York, Montefiore Medical Center, the Virginia Department of Social Services, Magellan Health Services, Washington University School of Medicine, and BJC HealthCare. She has taught statistics in several different contexts and currently teaches Intermediate Statistics at Washington University Medical School. She has published two previous books: An Intermediate Guide to SPSS Programming: Using Syntax for Data Management (SAGE Publications, 2004) and Secondary Data Sources for Public Health (forthcoming from Cambridge U. Press, 2007) and am currently editing the Encyclopedia of Epidemiology for SAGE Publications (forthcoming, 2007).

Paul A. Watters PhD CITP, is Associate Professor in the School of Information and Mathematical Sciences and Centre for Informatics and Applied Optimization (CIAO) at the University of Ballarat. Until recently, he was Head of Data Services at the Medical Research Council's National Survey of Health and Development, which is the oldest of the British birth cohort studies, and an honorary senior research fellow at University College London. He uses multivariate statistics to develop orthogonal and non-orthogonal methods for feature extraction in pattern recognition, especially in biometric applications.


Product Details

  • Series: In a Nutshell (O'Reilly)
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596510497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596510497
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wait for the second edition. March 3, 2009
Format:Paperback
On the one hand I like the book because of its scope and the overall presentation. What I find disturbing is the high amount of errors in all kinds of content (typos, formular errors, table errors, false figures, and so on). Also not great is that the solutions to the problems are given right after the problem itself so it is really hard not to look at the solution before starting to work on the problem. Somebody corrects all those errors and this is a great book on statistics. Right now the errata page at the publisher's web site is just too long.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy January 26, 2009
Format:Paperback
This book is a reasonably well written introduction to a variety of useful statistical concepts. It is far more readable than the average stats textbook. However, there clearly was some sort of failure in the copy editing process. This book is riddled with small, niggling errors which taken individually aren't so bad, but as a group are very annoying. These errors are not just typos; figures are mislabeled and referenced, the worked through examples contain mathematical errors (including miscalculation of means, etc.), and at least one formula is simply incorrect! These annoying quirks keep this book from being the clear concise text it could be, and no book can be a "Quick Reference" if you can't be sure that what you are looking up is correct! That said, if you take the time as a reader to work through the examples and make sure that the each formula makes mathematical sense, you can get something out of this book.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Most Errors Have Been Corrected. June 19, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I recently received this book and immediately went to the O'Reilly errata [...]There was an extensive list, but after going through it I found that about 80% of the errors noted on it had already been corrected despite the fact that the book I received is still marked "First Edition".

I have yet to read the book, so please take my 4 star rating with a grain of salt, but I had to include that to publish this review. That being said, the fear of excessive typos and errors should no longer deter you from considering this book.
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57 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of statistics book August 3, 2008
Format:Paperback
This book is probably not what you're expecting since most O'Reilly Nutshell books assume you already have thorough knowledge of a subject and you are just looking for "cues" in case you forget something. This book is more of a "Head First" type of book in that it assumes no prior knowledge of the subject. Since O'Reilly is planning a Head First book on Statistics, I'd like to see the difference between this book and that one.

This book focuses on using and understanding statistics in a research or applications context, not as a discrete set of mathematical techniques but as part of the process of reasoning with numbers. It integrates the discussion of issues such as measurement and data management into an introductory statistics text. It serves as an introductory statistics book that is compact, inexpensive, and easy for beginners to understand without being condescending or overly simplistic.

The audience for this book includes students taking introductory statistics classes in high schools, colleges, and universities, professionals who need to learn statistics as part of their current jobs, and finally people who are interested in learning about statistics out of intellectual curiosity.

The book focuses on statistical reasoning. In particular, the book focuses on thinking about data, and using statistics to aid in that process.

The book is organized into four parts: introductory material (Chapters 1-6) that lays the necessary foundation for the chapters that follow; elementary inferential statistical techniques (Chapters 7-11); more advanced techniques (Chapters 12-16); and specialized techniques (Chapters 17-19).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many errors. May 10, 2009
By Rich J
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book to brush up on some of the more advanced topics in statistics. As I remembered my undergrad stats experience to be a lot of proofs, I was drawn in by the "solid understanding without the numbing complexity of most textbooks" on the back cover.

There are just too many errors to be useful. I found myself going back more and more to my old statistics textbook from college. The examples are clearer and there are better problems to work through. And guess what? You can skip over the "numbing complexity" and still get more from a textbook than you will from "Statistics in a Nutshell."

Furthermore, I don't trust this title as a reference, as I typically have to validate what I'm researching with another textbook. It's quicker and easier to go to a source you know is correct from the start.

O'Reilly really needs to step up for this sloppy book: correct the mistakes and offer those of us with the first versions a free trade-in to the corrected version.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Book - Highly Underrated February 3, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have read many popular statistics books and textbooks. This is quite possibly the best-written book of it's type, a concise introduction/review, and introductory (first-year stats) reference. I'm writing this because I don't think the existing reviews generally give this book enough credit. What's so good about it?

(1) The writing: very clear and concise. But not so concise so as to be difficult or "mysterious." When reading the book, there there several times when I read something, didn't quite understand the point, was certain that the author had too quickly skimmed over the topic, only to turn the page and see a clear two or three paragraph explanation of the point I was trying to understand. The level at which the material is covered is just perfect for this sort of use: not too short so as to leave something out; not too long so as to make topics too complicated. The questions at the end of chapters are "just right" too. They are well chosen, clear, not superficial, but not too difficult.

(2) The organization of topics is very well done. The flow is very natural, and lends itself to effective and efficient coverage of the material.

This may not be the best book to learn statistics from scratch (perhaps a bit too concise, but actually still not too bad), and certainly not a good choice if you are looking for coverage or a reference for advanced topics. But if you are looking for a review, and perhaps an easy to read basic statistics reference, it can't be beat. Quite possibly the best book for this purpose available.

Hope this helps...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book on statistics
I am not a statistician, but do some research and I love the clear explanations and background information in this book.
Published 10 months ago by marsha harner
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it.
Easy read, great for all majors!!! Stats isn't my favorait subject but this textbook certainly helped me out a lot.
Published 11 months ago by Natalie A. Mobley
3.0 out of 5 stars This book has a lot of errors...check the website for corrections
Quick and dirty reminder guide to what methods are out there. Not your comprehensive guide. You have to know stats to know what you're looking for.
Published 15 months ago by vse
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for general statistics
Statistics in a Nutshell is a terrific book for giving a quick and rounded view of many aspects of statistics. Read more
Published 18 months ago by EThomlinson
1.0 out of 5 stars Too many errors
I did find this book useful at first in explaining in simple terms the fundamental concepts of stastics. Read more
Published on February 27, 2012 by Latifa
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying
With every passing page, my mind grew increasingly numb to the text of this book. I'm going to have to look elsewhere for a useful statistics overview.
Published on January 26, 2011 by Blair Christensen
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible-riddled with GLARING errors
This book has so many mistakes that it becomes difficult to interpret what the authors meant. Incorrect conclusions are drawn from the examples given. Read more
Published on February 21, 2010 by Robert Posner
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent road map to selecting a statistical test
For a very long time I had been looking for a basic book--a sort of map if you will--to the myriad number of statistical tests available for conducting research. Read more
Published on May 27, 2009 by Gregorio Billikopf
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for a middle school statistics class
The book was cute, but not for anyone who has passed algebra. I was disappointed because the book was recommended by an engineering trade journal. Read more
Published on April 27, 2009 by J. Weber
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