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Conducting statistical tests of hypotheses : five common misconceptions found in transportation research

Washington, Simon (1999) Conducting statistical tests of hypotheses : five common misconceptions found in transportation research. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 1665, pp. 1-6.

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Abstract

Most statistical methods use hypothesis testing. Analysis of variance, regression, discrete choice models, contingency tables, and other analysis methods commonly used in transportation research share hypothesis testing as the means of making inferences about the population of interest. Despite the fact that hypothesis testing has been a cornerstone of empirical research for many years, various aspects of hypothesis tests commonly are incorrectly applied, misinterpreted, and ignored—by novices and expert researchers alike. On initial glance, hypothesis testing appears straightforward: develop the null and alternative hypotheses, compute the test statistic to compare to a standard distribution, estimate the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis, and then make claims about the importance of the finding. This is an oversimplification of the process of hypothesis testing. Hypothesis testing as applied in empirical research is examined here. The reader is assumed to have a basic knowledge of the role of hypothesis testing in various statistical methods. Through the use of an example, the mechanics of hypothesis testing is first reviewed. Then, five precautions surrounding the use and interpretation of hypothesis tests are developed; examples of each are provided to demonstrate how errors are made, and solutions are identified so similar errors can be avoided. Remedies are provided for common errors, and conclusions are drawn on how to use the results of this paper to improve the conduct of empirical research in transportation.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 37608
Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: At the time of publication Simon Washington was employed by the Georgia Transportation Institute, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Georgia Institute of Technology.
ISSN: 0361-1981
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES (010000) > STATISTICS (010400) > Applied Statistics (010401)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500) > Transport Planning (120506)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Urban Development
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1999 Transportation Research Board of the National Academies
Deposited On: 17 Feb 2011 10:24
Last Modified: 31 May 2011 00:58

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