Author Archives: SiqiTao

What is Meta-analysis?

What is real research? Is there a true definition to describe the essence of research in science? You may have learned that scientific research is done by constructing a hypothesis, procedure, doing the experiment, and arriving at a conclusion. Is compiling observations from tons of literature consider scientific research?

Back in the 17th century, a paper was published by taking observations from several studies and analyzing the data. This was the first meta-analytical approach back in the 17th century,  but many argued the validity of the research.

How is meta-analysis done?  

The steps involved in meta-analysis are similar to traditional science experiment. Instead of observing chemical reactions in labs or gathering sample in the field, papers relevant to the research are compiled from multiple databases. However, researchers do not decide whether they agree with the results or not.

“The articles themselves are basically the unit of observation,” said Dr. Brooks Kaiser, a resource management economist at the University of British Columbia.

Researchers would simply gather outcomes that are clearly measurable from their selection of papers. Finally, they use statistics to summarize their findings.

For example, Dr. Kaiser decided to investigate whether there was any bias in the scientific community about an invasive species of crabs in Russia and Norway called the Barents Sea Red King Crab. She used meta-analysis to look for a trend in negative biological impacts. Here is a video explaining more about the Red King Crab and her research


Relation to Dr. Kaiser’s research

As we have seen from Dr. Kaiser’s work on the Red King Crab, meta analysis is an excellent method for bridging the gap between different disciplines of research. 

In this particular study, Dr. Kaiser has compiled research from over a thousand scientific publications from multiple countries and uses these findings as data for her economic analysis. This combination of expert biologists and economists makes the key finding that economic incentives may bias scientific research so much more credible.

Check out the podcast below to hear Dr. Kaiser explain the concepts of vertical and horizontal integration in an industrial production regarding the invasive species, the Red King Crab.


Overall, meta-analysis provides researchers with more generalized results which are not only more precise, but also applicable to a wider range of further research processes. This method does not require a strong background in the fields of studies as it enables scientists to simply gather information from studies of multiple disciplines and conduct a single research with the data collected.

Therefore, a meta-analysis could be of great help in those cases where a multi-disciplinary background is absent, as well as when a result that should be contributive to a wider population is in demand.


By Isaac Clark, Siqi Tao, Stacy Wu, Tina Kwon






Why Are There So Few Blue Fruits?

Speaking of fruits, how many kinds of blue fruits can you come up with? A recent research conducted in Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden located in Yunnan, China has shown that, amongst the over 600 species of fruits growing in the garden, only 6 types of fruits are blue. How did this come about? There are a variety of aspects that we need to look at in order to answer this question.


Where do colours in fruits come from?

Fruits get their colours from three main types of plant pigments: carotenoids for colours red, orange and yellow, flavonoids for blue and red, as well as chlorophyll for green colour. Due to the fact that colour red is the most common hue among the three chemicals, most fruits are red.

Colours of fruits and their reproduction

The reason why we are able to identify different colours is that the wavelengths of these colours can be perceived by a specific type of cells called cones in our eyes. Some animals see more colours than we do because they can detect a wider range of wavelengths in the nature. However, when reacting to different colours, cone cells show different levels of sensitivity to their wavelengths, and the colour blue is, unfortunately, not as visible as other colours to most animals.


Lower visibility of blue fruits leads to lower probabilities that they get spotted and eaten by animals and consequently have their seeds spread, which is an important method of reproduction for most plants. As a consequence, blue fruits can not be spread as easily and frequently as fruits with other colours such as red and orange.

However, while the colour blue gives these fruits a hard time to reproduce, there also exist some animals that are inherently colourblind. These animals spot and eat fruits randomly instead of by identifying colours, and this is also the reason why there is still a small amount of blue fruits we can find in our everyday life nowadays.

Additionally, another factor that should be taken into account is that, because it is always connected with characteristics such as danger, the colour blue can result in a loss of appetite in animals.

(video credit:

Overall, the shortage of blue fruits is due to a number of reasons. Specifically, the uneven distribution of pigments in different species of fruits and some special characteristics of the colour blue are the two main factors that account for this phenomenon to a great extend.


– Siqi Tao

A Brief Analysis on the number of live births in Canada

Over the past decades, Canada has been converting from a high-fertility society to a low-fertility society continuously. While the number of kids in a family keeps decreasing, the moms are getting more and more aged.

The fertility rate in Canada has remarkably decreased over decades.
Source: Statistics Canada


Well, how much impact does this reduction have on the population in Canada? Let’s take a look at the data of live births in Canada over a recent dozen years.

With the development of Canadian society, birth rate, birth weight and their relations to genders are affected by a variety of factors, such as lifestyles, environment, financial conditions and some biological reasons.

The dataset ‘Live births, by birth weight and sex, Canada, provinces and territories’ contains number and percentage of live births sorted by birth weight, sex and areas in Canada through 2000 to 2014,  accessible via Open Government Portal, Government of Canada.


According to a scatterplot of the overall trend of birth rate in Canada, 2000-2014, there is a consistent increase during the period of 2002 to 2008, and the number of birth increases rapidly from 2005 to 2009. Even though there are some fluctuations in these years, the overall trend is going up.

The amount of birth in Canada has soared over the 14 years.

From the further analyses conducted with the dataset, a more detailed idea of birth amount and birth weight in Canada in recent decade has arose. From 2000 to 2014, the overall amount of live births obviously increased by 4746.92 per year, but it fluctuated between 2000 to 2004 and 2008 to 2014. The period when the birth rate rapidly increased is from 2004 to 2007.

Fortunately, according to the above analysis, the number of live births in Canada over the period 2004 – 2007 was not influenced as badly as it looks at the first place. Even though factors that could negatively affect the population in Canada would always go with the development of the country, it can still be seen that the amount of newborn babies remains quite satisfactory from year to year.


Siqi Tao