Skip to content

The significance of p values

parking

P values are commonplace in the reporting of biomedical research, with a value lower than 0.05 generally considered by most as an indication of a statistically significant result. However, with some journals now choosing to ban them and many statisticians warning of the perils of relying on them, should researchers focus less on p values? This is the subject of a recent blog that discusses current opinion on this often-maligned statistical test.

In experiments where there are many variables interacting in a complex manner, sound statistical analysis is vital to interpret data and draw correct conclusions. However, it is often in this type of noisy experiment that statistical significance as indicated by a p value is more likely to be an over‑estimate, leading to spurious correlations. The authors suggest that it’s not the fault of the p value, rather the way that some chose to use it. Whether its ‘p-hacking’, where researchers play with their data until a significant result is found, or authors publishing a significant result without considering its scientific relevance, there are many p value pitfalls. The authors conclude that banning the p value altogether may not be the solution, but a better understanding of how to use the test appropriately would certainly help.

——————————————————–

Summary by Alice Wareham, PhD from Aspire Scientific

Categories

Medical writing

Aspire Scientific Ltd View All

Ryan co-runs Aspire Scientific, a dynamic, forward-thinking medical writing agency. Ryan has a passion for innovation, science and ethical communication.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: