On the Use of Multivariate Methods for Analysis of Data from Biological Networks

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Vargason, Troy
Howsmon, Daniel
McGuinness, Deborah L.
Hahn, Juergen
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2017-07-01
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Abstract
Data analysis used for biomedical research, particularly analysis involving metabolic or signaling pathways, is often based upon univariate statistical analysis. One common approach is to compute means and standard deviations individually for each variable or to determine where each variable falls between upper and lower bounds. Additionally, p-values are often computed to determine if there are differences between data taken from two groups. However, these approaches ignore that the collected data are often correlated in some form, which may be due to these measurements describing quantities that are connected by biological networks. Multivariate analysis approaches are more appropriate in these scenarios, as they can detect differences in datasets that the traditional univariate approaches may miss. This work presents three case studies that involve data from clinical studies of autism spectrum disorder that illustrate the need for and demonstrate the potential impact of multivariate analysis.
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