Fig 1C of the Replication Study: Melanoma exosomes educate bone marrow progenitor cells toward a pro-metastatic phenotype through MET uses an odd (to me) three stage normalization procedure for the quantified western blots. The authors compared blot values between a treatment (shMet cells) and a control (shScr cells) using GAPDH to normalize the values. The three stages of the normalization are first, the value for the Antibody levels were normalized by the value of a reference (GAPDH) for each Set.

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“A more efficient design would be to first group the rats into homogeneous subsets based on baseline food consumption. This could be done by ranking the rats from heaviest to lightest eaters and then grouping them into pairs by taking the first two rats (the two that ate the most during baseline), then the next two in the list, and so on. The difference from a completely randomised design is that one rat within each pair is randomised to one of the treatment groups, and the other rat is then assigned to the remaining treatment group.

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The post motivated by a tweetorial from Darren Dahly In an experiment, do we adjust for covariates that differ between treatment levels measured pre-experiment (“imbalance” in random assignment), where a difference is inferred from a t-test with p < 0.05? Or do we adjust for all covariates, regardless of differences pre-test? Or do we adjust only for covariates that have sustantial correlation with the outcome? Or do we not adjust at all?

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This post is motivated by a twitter link to a recent blog post critical of the old but influential study An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest with impressive citation metrics. In the post, Matthew Dalby smartly used the available data to reconstruct the final weights of the two groups. He showed these final weights were nearly the same, which is not good evidence for a treatment effect, given that the treatment was randomized among groups.

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Author's picture

R doodles. Some ecology. Some physiology. Much fake data.

Thoughts on R, statistical best practices, and teaching applied statistics to Biology majors.

Jeff Walker, Professor of Biological Sciences

University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine, United States