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Problematical choices of a measure

"Even the most elementary statistical methods have their practical effectiveness limited by measurement variation." (p. 46)
"If we are going to claim that our methods really help explain the world around us, it is important that we carefully discuss their limitations and implications."
(p. 48)
Stephan B. Vardeman et al, Elementary Statistical Methods and Measurement Error, The American Statistician, vol. 64, February 2010, pp. 46 - 51. 1
In most research, one or more outcome variables are measured. Statistical analysis is done on the outcome measures, and conclusions are drawn from the statistical analysis. Sometimes outcome measures are answers to questions, so care needs to be taken in wording of questions. The statistical analysis itself often involves another choice of measure, often called a summary statistic. One common source of misleading research results is giving inadequate attention to the choice of either outcome variables or summary statistics. Making a good choice depends on the particulars of the context, including the research question. Although there are some guidelines, there are no one-size-fits-all rules. So aspects of this topic can best be approached by examples.

Choosing an Outcome2 Variable

Wording Questions

Choosing a Summary Statistic

1. This article offers suggestions for incorporating attention to measurement in statistics classes.
2. Most of the discussion applies to predictor variables as well as outcome variables.

Last updated May 12, 2011