Still Not Significant

There has been a lack of posting lately, mostly because a very busy marking schedule has caught up with me.

So I hope you will enjoy this link to ‘Probable Error’, which has spent a very likely significant amount of time rounding up all the ways scientists use to describe P values which aren’t anywhere near significant at all.

Given the paper I’m currently reviewing reporting a tendency of P=0.07, I was highly amused!

Probable Error

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What to do if your p-value is just over the arbitrary threshold for ‘significance’ of p=0.05?

You don’t need to play the significance testing game – there are better methods, like quoting the effect size with a confidence interval – but if you do, the rules are simple: the result is either significant or it isn’t.

So if your p-value remains stubbornly higher than 0.05, you should call it ‘non-significant’ and write it up as such. The problem for many authors is that this just isn’t the answer they were looking for: publishing so-called ‘negative results’ is harder than ‘positive results’.

The solution is to apply the time-honoured tactic of circumlocution to disguise the non-significant result as something more interesting. The following list is culled from peer-reviewed journal articles in which (a) the authors set themselves the threshold of 0.05 for significance, (b) failed to achieve that threshold value for…

View original post 2,779 more words

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