ASA P-Value Statement Viewed > 150,000 Times

Since making its debut last March, the ASA’s p-value statement has been viewed more than 150,000 times in The American Statistician. The statement marked the first time a community of statisticians (via the ASA Board of Directors) officially addressed concerns about the misuse and misconceptions of p-values and included six principles to help improve the conduct and interpretation of quantitative science.

“The p-value was never intended to be a substitute for scientific reasoning,” said Ron Wasserstein, the ASA’s executive director. “Well-reasoned statistical arguments contain much more than the value of a single number and whether that number exceeds an arbitrary threshold. The ASA statement is intended to steer research into a ‘post p<0.05 era.’”

The debate over p-values is nothing new: Statisticians and scientists have been grappling with the topic for decades. In fact, articles in recent years appearing in ScienceNews and on Phys.org have cited “numerous deep flaws” and a “flimsy foundation” of statistical analysis of p-values.

Statistician, science writer, and ASA member Regina Nuzzo penned an article in Nature about this subject that has become one of the most highly viewed articles in that publication. Even educators have been stymied by the confusion over the p-value, often noting the cyclical environment of teaching “what is done, and doing what is taught.”

The impact of p-values, however, has taken a toll on research publication. “Over time, it appears the p-value has become a gatekeeper for whether work gets published, at least in some fields,” said Jessica Utts, ASA president. “This apparent editorial bias leads to the ‘file-drawer effect,’ in which research with statistically significant outcomes are much more likely to get published, while other work that might well be just as important scientifically is never seen in print.”

Crafting the p-value statement was no small matter and involved a bit of controversy, too. Find out more about what led the ASA to issue the statement.