A factorial experiment is one in which there are two or more factor variables (categorical \(X\)) that are crossed, resulting in a group for each combination of the levels of each factor. Factorial experiments are used to estimate the interaction effect between factors. Two factors interact when the effect of one factor depends on the level of the other factors. Interactions are ubiquitous, although sometimes they are small enough to ignore with little to no loss of understanding.

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This is fake data that simulates an experiment to measure effect of treatment on fat weight in mice. The treatment is “diet” with two levels: “control” (blue dots) and “treated” (gold dots). Diet has a large effect on total body weight. The simulated data are in the plot above - these look very much like the real data. The question is, what are problems with using an “ancova” linear model to estimate the direct effect of treatment on fat weight?

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This doodle was motivated Jake Westfall’s answer to a Cross-Validated question. The short answer is yes but most R scripts that I’ve found on the web are unsatisfying because only the t-value reproduces, not the df and p-value. Jake notes the reason for this in his answer on Cross-Validated. To get the adjusted df, and the p-value associated with this, one can use the emmeans package by Russell Lenth, as he notes here.

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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