Kristen Hunter (Workshop in Applied Statistics)


Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Zoom - link below

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Today's presenter:

Kristen Hunter (Harvard University), "Conceptualizing experimental controls using the potential outcomes framework"

Conference link:


The goal of a well-controlled study is to remove unwanted variation when estimating the causal effect of the intervention of interest. Experiments conducted in the basic sciences frequently achieve this goal using experimental controls, such as "negative'' and "positive'' controls, which are measurements designed to detect systematic sources of unwanted variation. Here, we introduce clear, mathematically precise definitions of experimental controls using potential outcomes. Our definitions provide a unifying statistical framework for fundamental concepts of experimental design from the biological and other basic sciences. We discuss experimental controls as tools for researchers to wield in designing experiments and detecting potential design flaws, including using controls to diagnose unintended factors that influence the outcome of interest, assess measurement error, and identify important subpopulations.

The Applied Statistics Workshop (Gov 3009) is a forum for graduate students, faculty, and visiting scholars to present and discuss methodological or empirical work in progress in an interdisciplinary setting. The workshop features a tour of Harvard's statistical innovations and applications with weekly stops in different fields and disciplines and includes occasional presentations by invited speakers. It is co-hosted by Harvard University's Department of Government and Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS).

For more information, visit the Applied Statistics website.