Analysis, Evaluation and Interpretation of Evidence

Imagine that you are a peer reviewer for a scientific journal. Assume that you have received the article by Jacobson & Tellefsen from the editor of the journal.
You are to write and present an analysis and evaluation of the scientific quality of their work – both the article as such and also the experiments and tests that are described in it, and it should be 900-1300 words long.

You should start with an introduction and then discuss the different aspects that you consider relevant in evaluating the article. You end with a conclusion and your verdict:1) publish as it is, 2) send back to the authors for revisions,
3) reject entirely. Justify your verdict and explain your decision.

In order to help you figure out what aspects to include in your test, you will find some guiding questions below.

You do not have to discuss all these questions in your text, instead you should discuss the ones you think are the
most relevant.

Note: It is important that you use and apply the correct and relevant TaMoS terminology from the course in your evaluation. Include short definitions and examples for each TaMoS concept and theory1 you use and address!

1. Identifying claims, features of interest and operationalization
1.1. What are they claiming and what are they interested in finding out?
1.2. What is the phenomenon (or feature of interest) called psi track, according to the article? What is it constituted
of? How did Jacobson & Tellefsen operationalize the psi track?
1.3. Can you identify any auxiliary hypotheses in the text? If so, why are they auxiliary hypotheses?
1.4. Can you identify any ad hoc hypothesis in the text? If so, why are they ad hoc?
2. Testing, experiment and methodology
2.1. Randomization, control groups and blinding
2.1.1. What does single and double blind mean?
2.1.2. Which parties, if any, were blinded in the trials that Tellefsen and Jacobson call “single blind” and
“double blind”? If no parties were single and/or double blinded, explain why with examples.
2.1.3. If they used single-blind and/or double-blind? Are Jacobson and Tellefsen applying this concept
correctly?
2.1.4. What does randomization mean and how can you produce it? Did they use any randomization? If
so, to what purpose?
2.1.5. Did they use any control groups or –samples.
1 By TaMoS concepts is simply meant the different concepts addressed in the course i.e. hypothesis, auxiliary hypothesis, ad-hoc hypothesis,
deduction, induction, the hypothetico-deductive method, Ockham’s Razor, operationalization, internal validity, external validity,
lexical definition, stipulative definition, experimental artefact, the Hawthorne effect, spurious correlation, etc. By TaMoS theories
is simply meant the different theories addressed in the course i.e. Verficationism, Inductivism, Falsificationism and the Quine-
Duhem thesis etc.
Theory and Methodology of Science (TaMoS)
Division of Philosophy | KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Compensation assignment seminar 3: Analysis, Evidence and Interpretation
Last edit 2016-09-28 by E.M Rissler
2.2. Test methods and measurements
2.2.1. What measuring method(s) or instrument(s) was/were used to detect the psi track?
2.2.2. Is their testing and or results repeatable, reproducible or possible to replicate? Why? Why not?
2.2.3. What is meant by a ”forced choice” methodology (p. 333–334)? Was it used? Why/why not?
2.2.4. Could a ”forced choice” methodology have improved the reliability of the experiments and testing?
If so, in what way(s)?
2.2.5. Could they have used a control group? What would that have meant in this case? Would that have
improved the reliability of the experiments and testing? If so, in what way(s)?
2.2.6. Was the experiments and testing easily repeatable? What would that have meant in this case?
Would that have improved the reliability of the experiment? If so, in what way(s)?
3. Reliability and validity
3.1. Internal validity – Control and manipulation of variables and experimental artefacts
3.1.1. What was good and reliable about the experimental methods in the article?
3.1.2. How did the authors attempt to control and manipulate the variables in their testing?
3.1.3. Were there any possibly influencing background variables that Tellefsen & Jacobson didn’t implement
control over disturbing factors (i.e. causes for experimental artefacts)?
3.2. Explanations and causes
3.2.1. Are they claiming to test any causal links (i.e. causality) or correlations?
3.2.2. If yes, how do they test this? Is the testing reliable and valid (i.e. internal validity, construct validity,
convergence validity etc.)?
3.2.3. Are there any confounding factors or spurious correlations? If so, give examples and explain in
what way that influences the scientific quality of the experiments and testing.
3.3. External validity
3.3.1. How high is the external validity of (the inferences drawn from) the experiment?
If possible, by what methods could the external validity be raised?
3.3.2. Would it have lowered the external validity of the experiment if it was carried out in a laboratory
setting? Why/why not?
Theory and Methodology of Science (TaMoS)
Division of Philosophy | KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Compensation assignment seminar 3: Analysis, Evidence and Interpretation
Last edit 2016-09-28 by E.M Rissler
4. Conclusions, final analysis and (real world) applications
4.1. What do you think of the anecdotal evidence? Does it add credibility to the article? Why or why not?
Does anecdotal evidence have a place in science?
4.2. Did the authors apply a falsificationist approach? If yes, how? If no, how could it be implemented better?
4.3. Can you evaluate the results by Jacobson and Tellefsen statistically? If not, what is missing from their
experimental design, such that if it was implemented it would in principle have made it possible to statistically
evaluate the results?
4.4. Are the conclusions and interpretations of data and results in the paper reasonable and justified, given
what has been reported about the methods and results in the paper? (You should look in the section Conclusion
and also in the Discussion section.)
5. Improvements
5.1. In order to raise the reliability and internal validity of (the inferences drawn from) the experiment,
how would you go about implementing control over the variables in the testing?
5.2. To summarize, what are the most damaging flaws of the hypothesis testing and experiment
and how would you do in a better way?
General considerations:
Be sure to have answered and covered the considerations below in your presentation.
• What are the main weaknesses and strengths of the article?
• Have you really presented and discussed the article´s most important methodological issues?
• If there are any methodological weaknesses, how could they be improved? I.e. how can one achieve
higher internal validity, better control of the variables and reduce experimental artefacts? How can the
external validity be improved etc.?
• Have you, as far as possible – given short definitions for the concepts and theories you discuss and also
tried to justify and explain what you say with the help of concrete examples?

 

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