Before there was data there was...
Kathy Ruggiero (University of Auckland, NZ)
...an important scientific question that needed answering: Might pigs fly? The question led to an idea: we should carry out an experiment to identify the molecular mechanisms that make pigs fly. And so it came to pass: the idea was enacted; an experiment was carried out, samples were taken from pigs across all the lands and sent to laboratories far-and-wide for analysis on big, expensive machines. There was a big cheer when, finally, the machines generated what everyone had been waiting for: DATA!!!! And everyone lived happily ever... "Uh-oh, what do we do with the data?"
Every year many millions of dollars are spent across the globe in collecting data that cannot answer the questions for which they were intended. The problem is that, with the exception of simple experiments, knowing which statistical design is "best" is nearly impossible without expertise in the subject matter. But, imagine a portal into the mind of an expert guide in the statistical design of experiments, reasoning his/her way through the process of generating an objective-aligned data collection protocol. I will demonstrate my efforts towards creating this portal via a web-based personal assistant for designing statistically sound experiments.