Over twitter, Jeff Harrison @mrjeffharrison shouted "Story time!" at this Wall Street Journal report on a Citibank/LinkedIn survey of working men and women.
"Story time" is the trick of reporting some statistics, then spinning a story that has little or nothing to do with the data just presented. This tactic is effective as some readers erroneously assume that the story is supported by the data.
A good illustration is this quote: "A Citi/LinkedIn survey earlier this year showed just one in four professional women has asked for a raise in the past year, a sign that women must build their negotiation skills, Descano said."
The reporter's conclusion is encapsulated by the headline of the entire article: "Job-Hoppers, Better Polish Those Negotiation Skills". However, the data concerned the proportion of women who asked for a raise. The rest is story time. Is it poor negotiation skills or poor self-confidence that causes women not to ask for a raise? Can't imagine it is the former.
Clicking through to the survey results leads to an infographic, confirming that the analysis is lacking. How is it decided that 25% asking for a raise is a bad number? What is the corresponding proportion for male workers? We aren't going to find out on this chart.
There is also confusion as to whether the survey involved only women. This is what the footnote to the infographics say but the Wall Street Journal reporter told us both men and women were included in the sample. Only involving women is a very bad research design, as there is no control group--this is one of the characteristic of so-called "Big Data" studies that often lead us down blind alleys.