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Meta-Research: Why we need to report more than 'Data were Analyzed by t-tests or ANOVA'

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Cite this article as: eLife 2018;7:e36163 doi: 10.7554/eLife.36163

Abstract

Transparent reporting is essential for the critical evaluation of studies. However, the reporting of statistical methods for studies in the biomedical sciences is often limited. This systematic review examines the quality of reporting for two statistical tests, t-tests and ANOVA, for papers published in a selection of physiology journals in June 2017. Of the 328 original research articles examined, 277 (84.5%) included an ANOVA or t-test or both. However, papers in our sample were routinely missing essential information about both types of tests: for example, 213 papers (95% of the papers that used ANOVA) did not contain the information needed to determine what type of ANOVA was performed, and 26.7% of papers did not specify what post-hoc test was performed. Most papers also omitted the information needed to verify ANOVA results. Essential information about t-tests was also missing in many papers. We conclude by discussing measures that could be taken to improve the quality of reporting.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Tracey L Weissgerber

    Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, United States
    For correspondence
    weissgerber.tracey@mayo.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-7490-2600
  2. Oscar Alejandro Garcia Valencia

    Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-0186-9448
  3. Vesna D Garovic

    Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Natasa M Milic

    Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Stacey J Winham

    Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

American Heart Association (16GRNT30950002)

  • Tracey L Weissgerber

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (UL1 TR000135)

  • Tracey L Weissgerber

Mayo Clinic (Robert W. Fulk Career Development Award)

  • Tracey L Weissgerber

National Cancer Institute (R03-CA212127)

  • Stacey J Winham

Walter and Evelyn Simmers Career Development Award for Ovarian Cancer Research

  • Stacey J Winham

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. M Dawn Teare, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: February 26, 2018
  2. Accepted: December 16, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: December 21, 2018 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: January 9, 2019 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2018, Weissgerber et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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