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On the Past and Future of Null Hypothesis Significance Testing

Daniel H. Robinson and Howard Wainer
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 66, No. 2 (Apr., 2002), pp. 263-271
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3803158
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3803158
Page Count: 9
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On the Past and Future of Null Hypothesis Significance Testing
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Abstract

Recent criticisms of null hypothesis significance testing (NHST) have appeared in wildlife research journals (Cherry 1998; Johnson 1999; Anderson et al. 2000, 2001; Guthery et al. 2001). In this essay, we discuss these criticisms with regard to both current usage of NHST and plausible future use. We suggest that the historical use of such procedures was reasonable and that current users might spend time profitably reading some of Fisher's applied work. However, modifications to NHST, and to the interpretations of its outcomes, might better suit the needs of modern science. Our primary conclusion is that NHST most often is useful as an adjunct to other results (e.g., effect sizes) rather than as a stand-alone result. We cite some examples, however, where NHST can be profitably used alone. Last, we find considerable experimental support for a less dogmatic attitude toward the interpretation of the probability yielded from such procedures.

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