Homeworks, course DD3001, (part of) DA2205, 2011

Submit at least two of the following; If what you submit is too vague or thin, I will ask for more. You can cooperate in pairs or triples, but the requirements are somewhat higher for co-authored submissions. Tasks 1 and 2 are only for DA2205. The requirements are also higher for the course FDD3001 than for DA2205. The submission MUST include the names of those who cooperated AND references to information used (publications not in the compendium, web sites) AND the names of any persons you may have asked for advice (except mine, I hope to remember it). You can write in English or Swedish, but for native Swedish speakers it might be better to choose English, since you will mostly write in English and many Swedish students need to improve their English.
  1. Self-presentation(DA2205 only)

    Write a short self-presentation that you would give orally when you give a significant seminar, if the chairman forgot to present you but asked you to do it yourself (he actually forgot who you are..). Imagine you are applying for a job at the place.

    (Here cooperation would mean that the result is one item for each co-author)

  2. Press release(DA2205 only)

    Select a research result that you have achieved, one that you hope to achieve, or a recent important result you are familiar with. Write the text you would produce if your boss asked you to produce a press release for it and you found it a good idea. Press releases are sent to popular science/technology and local newspapers, and should contain material that catches the eyes of journalists and allows them to write a short notice. It can also encourage them to contact you. Thus, a press release targets a professional journalist, not the 'man in the street'. Typically relatively few lead to coverage, so it is important to make it interesting and easy to catch, but not shallow. State the (possibly future) date and author(s) of the result, and the publication reference, if any.

    If you have already done this, submit the release you made, with an analysis for possible improvements.

    Comment: Press releases were required but not enforced for PhD defenses until the late 1980:s. However, since candidates were given little guidance in writing them, very few if any lead to media coverage. Today, some but not all financers of commissioned research have their own experts and do not want researchers to make press releases without their assistance or at least approval. Remember also the social rules around media contacts, as examplified in the AMC research code (item 21 in course package).

  3. Short application

    Write a short application for research funding in your area. You should target some type of funding agency: A research group leader where you would like to do a Master's thesis project (for Master's students) or a PhD thesis project (for PhD students), a basic research funding agency like the Swedish VR or US NSF, a public innovation oriented agency (like Swedish Vinnova, US DARPA, US DOE, US NIH), or an industry Research and Development unit.

    The text should only include:
    Project title (a one-liner),
    project member(s),
    cost (in person months),
    research question,
    relevance of it,
    and a CARS-style motivation as described in Paul, Charney, Kendall: Reception Studies in the Rhetoric of Science (you need KTH library access to get it).

    If you have already written an application, you can submit that one with an analysis of possible improvements. Similar text may be required when you apply for an academic job or a development project in industry.

  4. Paper Analysis

    Analyze Pediatrics 2005;116;1506-1512. Which are the assumptions and conclusions of the paper? Is there some type of conclusion hinted at that is implicit? Have authors followed controlled trial rules as far as feasible? Are their conclusions statistically correct? (Do your own check and report the details-there are many ways to assess the significance of the outcome). The paper starts out with the statement that between 44000 and 98000 deaths occur annually caused by medical errors in US health care. How was this estimate produced and how reliable is it? What does (might) it mean? Does it seem to be 'common knowledge'? In what way is it relevant for this paper?

    There is a discussion area on the article's web space that you should check (library access required). Do not just reproduce the discussion there, but try to add something of interest, and restructure it.

    The figure on number of deaths caused by mistakes much later lead a Swedish minister to propose new legislation, according to a Swedish newspaper . Would you say that this minister was well informed?

    You can, if you want, instead analyze the questions raised in Johan Hoffman's seminar or take some other controversial but interesting paper in your own area.

  5. Analysis of fraud investigation (Data in Swedish)

    Analyze the report 'Granskning av Professor NN's forskning ...', Dec 9 2005. Among others, the following questions seem relevant, but you can base the analysis on the parts you are comfortable with (e.g., if you do not like statistics you can make a qualitative analysis):
    Which is the main conclusion of the researcher criticized in the report?
    Is it qualitative or quantitative?
    How was it translated to a problem in statistical inference, and is this translation reasonable and/or inevitable?
    Do the investigators seem to understand statistical inference?
    Which is the main statistical assumption in standard regression, and does it seem to be discussed by the investigators or fulfilled in the data?
    Is the production of input to the regression analysis 'scientifically correct'? How reliable are the raw data?

    Note: You have even less access to the raw data than the investigators, so the analysis will probably consist of a careful reading of the literal statements involved and their ambiguities. The English version of the survey based report is Here . All Uppsala University research was seriously evaluated in 2008. You could also see what came out of this, and use other material published since the investigation was made. (Oakley's book contains enough methodological observations for this homework)

    It is not appropriate for this homework to parrot judgments found in media, because not all of them are based on knowledge of the case.

    If you know of or find another fraud investigation, you could also use that one. But do not take a closed one, were the accused has been unanimously acquitted or sentenced. A quite fitting, but also difficult, topic would be the so-called Climate-gate controversy.

  6. Media event

    Science got some controversial publicity when Watson enlightened the world about a problem that he thinks science has some answers to. What is his conclusion, and what is the basis of his conclusion? Does the basis seem to be solid, and does the conclusion seem to follow from this basis? You may also compare this event with Ben-David's analysis of Jensen and Herrnstein in the course compendium.

    An alternative interesting episode is the discussion going on between the Curia of the Catholic church and the medical journal Lancet . Find out exactly what the two sides have claimed, analyze where they consciously choose to misunderstand each other and find correct and incorrect statements among the claims of the two parties. Note: It is easy to claim that one side is right and the other wrong, but this is not the task in this assignment. A key to understanding the discussion can lie in different interpretations of the concept of causality.

    A third option: The 'bestseller' Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein seems to make short work of current mainstream economic theory. Which are the key questions raised by this criticism, and how can the questions be settled? Are they settled in the book? Note here that I am not interested in whether or not there are small formal errors in the presentation: The main issue is much more important than so. I am also not after a moral verdict on Milton Friedman. It can be assumed that he followed research practice in his discipline, unless you find convincing arguments for the opposite.

  7. Science or Pseudoscience?

    Analyze a controversial scientific line of inquiry, and discuss arguments for placing it in the bin of science or pseudoscience. Some examples: Bibliometry, Homeopathy, Steiner pedagogy, string theory. NOT dowsing, astrology or phrenology, please!
  8. Scientific Results in Commercials

    KTH released a report on the carreers of its alumni, here (Swedish and English versions in right bar). Which are the conclusions of the report, and how reliable are they? (Oakley's book contains enough methodological observations for this homework)
  9. Proposal Review

    Review a project proposal in your area, and present your written statement to me for discussion. I will supply a proposal (with the call text), if I can find a suitable one for you, but if you have access to one, that one can also be used.
  10. Elective

    If you would like to do some other type of homework, please suggest it to me before starting work on it.

Good Luck!, Stefan