Category Archives: Statistics

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






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

Drinking too Much Water Can Kill You

Growing up, we have been told numerous times to drink at least four-to-six cups of water a day to stay hydrated. Water is an essential part of life, but what if I told you that drinking too much water can kill you? There are many studies that explain how over-hydration, especially when you are finishing a workout or have kidney issues may increase the risk of water intoxication. Water intoxication, also known as hyponatremia can be hazardous to your health and in a few cases lethal.


Drinking 3 Litres of water a day keeps you well hydrated.                Credit: Chris Bishop

How Can Over-hydration Kill You?

In this video, Science Insider a YouTube channel that primarily creates educational videos, explains how dangerous and harmful over-hydration can be.

Drinking faster than your kidney can process disrupts the balance of Sodium and water in the cells resulting in the cell swelling up and expanding.  The video continues explaining how the continuous swelling of cells, especially brain cells  leads to dizziness and brain damage.

Research Study on Water Intoxication

A study from Queen Mary University of London, explained that water consumption is indeed beneficial to the human body in healthy amounts. However, Exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH) also known as water intoxication in marathon runners are more prevalent.

The study collected surveys on 298 participants who were all runners in the 2014 London Marathon, surprisingly only 48% of participants had knowledge about the effects of water intoxication and how much water should be consumed during the run. As study shows that 13% of marathon runners show mild symptoms of water intoxication. The saying “drink to thirst,” is known to be the most effective guideline to prevent water intoxication compared to “drink to max.” There isn’t enough proof  that establishes when mild symptoms of water intoxication becomes symptomatic. But what is known is that hydration strategies is vital to the safety of participants that are involved in high physical activity.


Know your limit and stay within it!                                            Credit: Chris Bishop


The effects of over-hydration is lethal and should not be taken lightly! We’re all guilty of gulping down a few drinks or even consuming excess amounts of water after a workout, however we should definitely take a few sips back and think about how much water we really need.


Cindy San

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