Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Davis

UC Davis Previously Published Works bannerUC Davis

Three common misuses of P values


"Significance" has a specific meaning in science, especially in statistics. The p-value as a measure of statistical significance (evidence against a null hypothesis) has long been used in statistical inference and has served as a key player in science and research. Despite its clear mathematical definition and original purpose, and being just one of the many statistical measures/criteria, its role has been over-emphasized along with hypothesis testing. Observing and reflecting on this practice, some journals have attempted to ban reporting of p-values, and the American Statistical Association (for the first time in its 177 year old history) released a statement on p-values in 2016. In this article, we intend to review the correct definition of the p-value as well as its common misuses, in the hope that our article is useful to clinicians and researchers.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View