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Incongruence between test statistics and P values in medical papers

Given an observed test statistic and its degrees of freedom, one may compute the observed P value with most statistical packages. It is unknown to what extent test statistics and P values are congruent in published medical papers. Methods: We checked the congruence of statistical results reported in all the papers of volumes 409–412 of Nature (2001) and a random sample of 63 results from volumes 322–323 of BMJ (2001). We also tested whether the frequencies of the last digit of a sample of 610 test statistics deviated from a uniform distribution (i.e., equally probable digits).Results: 11.6% (21 of 181) and 11.1% (7 of 63) of the statistical results published in Nature and BMJ respectively during 2001 were incongruent, probably mostly due to rounding, transcription, or type-setting errors. At least one such error appeared in 38% and 25% of the papers of Nature and BMJ, respectively. In 12% of the cases, the significance level might change one or more orders of magnitude. The frequencies of the last digit of statistics deviated from the uniform distribution and suggested digit preference in rounding and reporting.Conclusions: this incongruence of test statistics and P values is another example that statistical practice is generally poor, even in the most renowned scientific journals, and that quality of papers should be more controlled and valued

BMC Medical Research Methodology, 2004, vol. 4, núm. 13

BioMed Central

Author: García-Berthou, Emili
Alcaraz Cazorla, Carles
Date: 2004
Abstract: Given an observed test statistic and its degrees of freedom, one may compute the observed P value with most statistical packages. It is unknown to what extent test statistics and P values are congruent in published medical papers. Methods: We checked the congruence of statistical results reported in all the papers of volumes 409–412 of Nature (2001) and a random sample of 63 results from volumes 322–323 of BMJ (2001). We also tested whether the frequencies of the last digit of a sample of 610 test statistics deviated from a uniform distribution (i.e., equally probable digits).Results: 11.6% (21 of 181) and 11.1% (7 of 63) of the statistical results published in Nature and BMJ respectively during 2001 were incongruent, probably mostly due to rounding, transcription, or type-setting errors. At least one such error appeared in 38% and 25% of the papers of Nature and BMJ, respectively. In 12% of the cases, the significance level might change one or more orders of magnitude. The frequencies of the last digit of statistics deviated from the uniform distribution and suggested digit preference in rounding and reporting.Conclusions: this incongruence of test statistics and P values is another example that statistical practice is generally poor, even in the most renowned scientific journals, and that quality of papers should be more controlled and valued
Format: application/pdf
Citation: García-Berthou, E., i Alcaraz, C. (2004). Incongruence between test statistics and P values in medical papers. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 4, 13. Recuperat 23 de gener de 2012, a http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2288/4/13
ISSN: 1471-2288 (versió paper)
1471-2288 (versió electrònica)
Document access: http://hdl.handle.net/10256/3930
Language: eng
Publisher: BioMed Central
Collection: Reproducció digital del document publicat a: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2288-4-13
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Is part of: BMC Medical Research Methodology, 2004, vol. 4, núm. 13
Rights: Aquest document està subjecte a una llicència Creative Commons: Reconeixement (by)
Rights URI: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/es/deed.ca
Subject: Estadística
Statistics
Title: Incongruence between test statistics and P values in medical papers
Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Repository: DUGiDocs

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