Volume 18 - Article 15 | Pages 437-442

The reporting of statistical significance in scientific journals: A reflexion

By Jan M. Hoem

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Date received:12 Nov 2007
Date published:03 Jun 2008
Word count:774
Keywords:statistical significance
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2008.18.15
 

Abstract

Scientific journals in most empirical disciplines have regulations about how authors should report the precision of their estimates of model parameters and other model elements. Some journals that overlap fully or partly with the field of demography demand as a strict prerequisite for publication that a p-value, a confidence interval, or a standard deviation accompany any parameter estimate. I feel that this rule is sometimes applied in an overly mechanical manner. Standard deviations and p-values produced routinely by general-purpose software are taken at face value and included without questioning, and features that have too high a p-value or too large a standard deviation are too easily disregarded as being without interest because they appear not to be statistically significant. In my opinion authors should be discouraged from adhering to this practice, and flexibility rather than rigidity should be encouraged in the reporting of statistical significance. I would also encourage thoughtful rather than mechanical use of p-values, standard deviations, confidence intervals, and the like.

Author's Affiliation

Jan M. Hoem - Stockholm University, Sweden [Email]

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