Strengthening biometry and statistics in agricultural science
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CTA. 1996. Strengthening biometry and statistics in agricultural science. Spore 66. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48586
workshop which was organized by CTA in collaboration with the University of Hohenheim, Germany, and held at the university from 7-9 October 1996
CTA has undertaken a study on ways of strengthening the use of biometry and statisitics in agricultural research programmes (see Spore 64p12). The overall objective is to improve the quality of such research programmes, whilst at the same time reducing their cost. An important element of the study was a workshop which was organized by CTA in collaboration with the University of Hohenheim, Germany, and held at the university from 7-9 October 1996. Workshop participants analysed the results of the first two phases of the study and offered suggestions for the following phases. These will include case studies and proposals for future action. A literature study, and responses to a major survey by questionnaire, have revealed that the standard of biometry and statistics among scientists is generally poor. Training, which is usually available only at universities, is too theoretical and poorly adapted to the problems that will be encountered during the course of research work. Furthermore, students are often tempted to neglect these subjects because they fail to appreciate their importance. There are too few biometricians within research centres to be effective, and they do not always have the level of skills required. When budget restrictions are imposed the first post to be lost is often that of the biometrician, who may be replaced by a computer and analytical software. No more than 25% of scientists have access to literature which can help them plan their research or analyse their results and 12% of biometricians have neither books nor specialized publications on their own subject. Software programmes for planning research experiments are practically unknown within research institutions in Africa and programmes for analysing data are rare. It is not surprising that the quality of agricultural research suffers from the effect of these problems. When research programmes produce only poor results, the resources which have been spent on that research are wasted. In addition, the number of papers rejected for publication is unusually high. The 40 participants who attended the workshop were able to contribute their own experiences as biometricians and researchers to the consultants undertaking the study. The two groups acknowledged that it was in their mutual best interest to work together and recommend ways of overcoming the constraints. The overall objective is to improve the quality of agricultural research in order to provide a better service to farmers. This must be done in spite of the budget restrictions currently being experienced by research institutions. The conclusions and recommendations of the workshop will help the consultants and CTA to define the modalities and objectives for the following phases of the study Case studies of the situation in different countries will be undertaken as will an evaluation of the specific needs of scientists for statistical support and the means by which statisticians can be better integrated within agricultural research teams.