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Submitted: 28-Feb-2011 Revision Submitted: 28-Feb-2011 Accepted: 28-Feb-2011 Type: Editorial

ELF-A Data presentation and use of statistical tests in biomedical journals: can we reach a consensus?

There is more or less general acceptance of the proposition that the use and presentation of statistics in biomedical journals is less than optimal. The challenge, then, is to improve it. The underlying problem is multi-factorial. Firstly, there is a vast array of statistical methods available to researchers, so that knowing when one should use a particular approach, and how to interpret the outcomes, is difficult for experienced researchers let alone novices. This problem is in turn exacerbated, in this new age of bioinformatics, by the complexities of analysis of large data-sets arising from, for example, genetic1 and high throughput genomic/proteomic studies.2 Secondly, there is considerable inertia for change amongst authors, reviewers and editors. We all must be amateur biostatisticians but unfortunately few of us are really up to the job and even fewer of us are interested in changing our tried and (more or less) true habits. Thirdly, in some cases there is still considerable disagreement among biostatisticians as to what is the correct statistical approach to a particular problem.3 If card-carrying biostatisticians cannot agree, what hope do humble pharmacologists and physiologists have? Because of the complex nature of the problem, the quality of use and presentation of statistics in biomedical journals will not improve overnight. It will be a long road indeed. A large part of the solution lies in education, of authors, reviewers and editors alike. We are therefore proud to announce the publication, in this issue, of the first of what will be an ongoing series of articles published simultaneously in six biomedical journals: The Journal of Physiology, Experimental Physiology, The British Journal of Pharmacology, Advances in Physiology Education, Clinical and This is an Accepted Article that has been peer-reviewed and approved for publication in the Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, but has yet to undergo copy-editing and proof correction. Please cite this article as an Accepted Article; doi: 10.1111/j.14401681.2011.05508.x

Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology (CEPP), and Microcirculation.4 These articles will all be brief, focused on a specific problem, and pitched at a simple level. All articles will be openaccess. The first article deals with the presentation of data, encouraging authors to show original data whenever this is possible.4 Future articles will deal with issues ranging from regression analysis, use of permutation tests, and approaches to the reporting of statistics that allow the readers to know exactly what you have done. We expect to roll out these 15 or so papers over the next 1824 months. Once the project is complete they will be collated into an open-access virtual issue. We will also then update CEPPs Guidelines for the Use and Presentation of Statistics5 so that they incorporate the suggestions made in this series of articles. Other journals involved in this initiative will also update their guidelines in response to these articles,6 so at the very least there will be more uniform requirements for the reporting of statistics in the major journals of physiology and pharmacology. CEPP has had a long-term commitment to education in statistics, driven by a series of articles written by Professor John Ludbrook, an eminent surgeon, physiologist and (now) biostatistician. These articles have covered topics such as regression and comparison of methods of measurement and measurers,7-11 multiple comparison procedures,12,

how to deal with outliers,14 use of

confidence intervals for hypothesis testing,15 the use of permutation tests instead of non-parametric tests,16 and the choice of statistics packages for data analysis.17,

Others have contained more

general advice for the use and presentation of statistics,19 or provided a critical evaluation of the quality of statistical guidelines and the reporting of statistics in CEPP and other journals.3, 20 These 15 articles have been pitched a bit differently to those we will co-publish over the next 18 months or so. They do not contain any complex equations, but do provide more direct instruction on how one goes about performing particular analyses, and often worked examples to demonstrate why a particular method might be superior to others. Thus, we feel that the two series of articles are complementary. CEPP is, therefore, proud to announce that we have made these 15 articles available as an open-access virtual issue, accessible via our homepage at Insert URL. We hope these sets of articles will prove to be a valuable resource for our readership. Perhaps more importantly, we hope that authors who submit their work to CEPP will consider the important messages in these articles and strive towards excellence in the use and presentation of statistics in their manuscripts.

References 1. Kippola TA, Santorico SA. Methods for combining multiple genome-wide linkage studies. Methods Mol. Biol. 620:541-60. 2. Xie Y, Ahn C. Statistical methods for integrating multiple types of high-throughput data. Methods Mol. Biol. 2010;620:511-29. 3. Ludbrook J. Comments on journal guidelines for reporting statistics. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 2005;32:324-6. 4. Drummond GB, Vowler SL. Show the data, don't conceal them. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 2011;38. 5. Ludbrook J. CEPP Guidelines for the Use and Presentation of Statistics. 2008 [updated 2008; cited]; Available from: 6. Drummond GB, Paterson DJ, McGrath JC. Statistics: all together now, one step at a time. J. Physiol. 2011;to be added at production. 7. Ludbrook J. Comparing methods of measurement. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 1997;24:193-203. 8. Ludbrook J. Statistical techniques for comparing measurers and methods of measurement: a critical review. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 2002;29:527-36. 9. Ludbrook J. Detecting systematic bias between two raters. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 2004;31:113-5. 10. Ludbrook J. Linear regression analysis for comparing two measurers or methods of measurement: but which regression? Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 2010;37:692-9. 11. Ludbrook J. Confidence in Altman-Bland plots: a critical review of the method of differences. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 2010;37:143-9. 12. Ludbrook J. On making multiple comparisons in clinical and experimental pharmacology and physiology. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 1991;18:379-92. 13. Ludbrook J. Multiple comparison procedures updated. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 1998;25:1032-7. 14. Ludbrook J. Outlying observations and missing values: how should they be handled? Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 2008;35:670-8. 15. Ludbrook J. Multiple inferences using confidence intervals. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 2000;27:212-5. 16. Ludbrook J. Advantages of permutation (randomization) tests in clinical and experimental pharmacology and physiology. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 1994;21:673-86. 17. Ludbrook J. Microcomputer statistics packages for biomedical scientists. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 1995;22:976-86. 18. Ludbrook J. Update: microcomputer statistics packages. A personal view. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 1997;24:294-6. 19. Ludbrook J. Statistics in physiology and pharmacology: a slow and erratic learning curve. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 2001;28:488-92.

20. Ludbrook J. The presentation of statistics in Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 2008;35:1271-4; author reply 4.

Roger G. Evans Department of Physiology Monash University Australia Email:

Ding-Feng Su Department of Pharmacology Second Military Medical University, Shanghai Peoples Republic of China Email: