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Dr Sherwan R Shal

Why should we test significance?

Heart rate (bpm) Mean ± SEM
In men - 73.34 ± 5.82 10
In women - 80.45 ± 6.13 10
The difference between means (80.45-73.34) =

We do not need a stat test of significance, if only

a. the data from all subjects in a group are
Why should we test significance?
We test SAMPLE to draw conclusions about

If two SAMPLES (group means) are different, can

we be certain that POPULATIONS (from which the
samples were drawn) are also different?

Is the difference obtained TRUE or SPURIOUS?

Will another set of samples be also different?

What are the chances that the difference obtained

is spurious?
The above questions can be answered by STAT
Stat test
Tests whether two groups are statistically
different from each other

Statistically different? = Truly different?

Not just apparently different

You do not need

statistics to say
these two are truly
different. Do you?
But statistics
does help us
which group
of trees is

You do not need

statistics to say
these two are truly
different. Do you?
How does a Stat test work?
Stat test analyses the data (numbers) submitted
(by the researcher) to calculate the chances of
obtaining a difference when there is none i.e.
probability of obtaining a spurious difference.

It does not indicate

(a) whether your design is right or wrong

(b) whether the type of data is correct or wrong
(c) the magnitude of the difference
(d) whether the difference will be practically useful

All it can point out is whether the obtained

difference between two groups is REAL or FALSE
What does a Stat test infer?

Stat test  Data  P value

When p<0.05, it shows that the chances of

obtaining a false difference is less than 5%
(1 in 20) [p<0.01 – 1 in 100; p<0.001 – 1
in 1000]

Since we consider 5% P is small, we

conclude that the difference between
groups is TRUE

Truth is something which is most likely to

be true and 100% certainty is impossible.
How to test statistical significance?

State Null hypothesis

Set alpha (level of significance)
Identify the variables to be analysed
Identify the groups to be compared
Choose a test

Calculate the test statistic

Find out the P value
Interpret the P value
Calculate the CI of the difference
Calculate Power if required
Null hypothesis
Null hypothesis (statistical hypothesis) states that
there is no difference between groups compared.

Alternative hypothesis or research hypothesis

states that there is a difference between groups.


New drug ‘X’ is an analgesic - (Research


New drug ‘X’ is not an analgesic – (Null hypothesis)

Alpha / type 1 error / level of significance

The level of significance is to be set

It is generally set at 0.05 (5%) and not above.

If the P value is less than this limit then null

hypothesis is rejected i.e. the difference
between groups is not due to chance.
Choosing a stat test

Why should we choose a test?

Choosing a stat test……….

Why should we choose a test?

There are many tests

The selection of test varies with the type of

study design,
distribution &
no. of groups
Choosing a stat test………
Parametric Non-parametric
Student’s t test Wilcoxon
paired t signed rank test
unpaired t rank sum test

Pearson’s Spearman’s rank

correlation correlation

ANOVA One – Kruskal-Wallis

way Friedman
two - way
Chi square test
Kolomogorov-Smirnov test
Choosing a stat test……

Determine :
Aim of the study –
Parameter to be analysed -
Data type- [Continuous, Discrete, Rank, Score,
Analysis type- [Comparison of means, Quantify association,
Regression analysis]
No. of groups to be analysed -
No. of data sets to be analysed -
Distribution of data - [normal or non-normal]
Design - [paired or unpaired]

With the above information, one can decide the

suitable test using the table given.
Choosing a stat test……
3. Data type 2. Distribution of data 3. Analysis type (goal)
4. No. of groups 5. Design Table downloaded from
Table downloaded from
Calculating test statistic

difference between group means

variability of groups
e.g. t test t
= SE(XT - XC)
Determining P
Find out the degrees of freedom (df)
Use t and df to find out P using a
formula or ‘critical values table’
How to interpret P?
If P < alpha (0.05), the difference is statistically

If P>alpha, the difference between groups is not

statistically significant / the difference could
not be detected.

If P> alpha, calculate the power

If power < 80% - The difference could not be

detected; repeat the study with more ‘n’
If power ≥ 80 % - The difference between
groups is not statistically significant.
Degrees of Freedom
It denotes the number of samples that a
researcher has freedom to choose.

The concept can be explained by an analogy :

X + Y = 10 df = 1
X+ Y+Z = 15 df = 2

For paired t test df = n-1

For unpaired t test df= N1+N2 - 1