Errores conceptuales de estadística más comunes en publicaciones científicas

Roberto Antonio Matamoros Pinel, Alejandro Ceballos Márquez


Este trabajo proporciona información actualizada sobre los errores estadísticosque comúnmente se cometen en la literatura científica y comoestos podrían ser evitados. El objetivo principal es una revisión de maneraconceptual de los errores estadísticos frecuentemente observados, asícomo defectos y trampas en la ciencia médica y veterinaria para ayudara los investigadores a producir resultados estadísticamente correctos ensus futuras investigaciones. Al mismo tiempo, esta revisión podría ayudara que los lectores de revistas científicas identifiquen análisis estadísticoso presentación de datos cuestionables y puedan estimar lo qué los autoreshabrían concluido si hubieran utilizado métodos estadísticos apropiados.

Common conceptual statistical mistakes in scientificliterature

This work seeks to provide up-to-date information on commonly made statisticalmistakes and statistical reports in scientific papers, and how thesecan be avoided. The main goal is to comprehensively review frequently observedstatistical errors, flaws and pitfalls in medical and veterinary sciencein order to help researchers to produce statistically correct output intheir future reports. At the same time, it can help readers to identify questionablestatistical analysis, and estimate what the authors would haveconcluded when appropriate statistical methods have been used.

Keywords: statistical mistakes, statistical methods, research statistics.

Equívocos comuns de estatísticas em publicações científicas

Este trabalho procura fornecer uma atualização sobre os erros estatísticoscomumente cometidos na literatura científica e como eles podem ser evitados.O principal objetivo é analisar de uma maneira conceitual defeitos observadosfrequentemente, erros estatísticos e armadilhas na ciência médicae veterinária para ajudar os pesquisadores a produzir resultados estatisticamentecorretos em futuras investigações. Ao mesmo tempo, esta revisãopode ajudar os leitores de revistas científicas a identificar análise estatísticaou apresentação de dados questionáveis e estimar o que os autores teriaconcluído teve eles usaram métodos estatísticos adequados.

Palavras-chave: erros estatísticos, métodos estatísticos, estatística de pesquisa.


Palabras clave

errores estadísticos, estadística en investigación, métodos estadísticos.

Texto completo:



Alderson, P. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Brit Med J. 2004; 328: 476-477.

Altman DG, Bland JM. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Brit Med J (Clinical Research Ed.) 1995; 311: 485.

Altman DG, Goodman SN, Schroter S. How statistical expertise is used in medical research. JAMA. 2002; 287: 2817-2820.

Altman DG. Statistics and ethics in medical research. Improving the quality of statistics in medical journals. Brit Med J. 1981; 282: 44-47.

Altman DG. Statistics in medical journals: some recent trends. Stat Med. 2000; 19: 3275–3289.

Barnett V, Lewis T. Outliers in Statistical Data. 3rd ed., John Wiley and sons, New York. 1994.

Begley CGC, Ellis LML. Drug development: Raise standards for preclinical cancer research. Nature. 2012; 483: 531-533.

Bland JMJ, Altman DGD. Comparisons against baseline within randomised groups are often used and can be highly misleading. Trials. 2011; 12: 264-266.

Boos DD, Stefanski LA. P-value precision and reproducibility. Am Stat. 2011; 65: 213-221.

Box, GEP, Cox, DGD. An analysis of transformations. J Royal Stat Soc, Series B. 1964; 26: 211-252.

Cooper RJ, Schriger DL, Close RJH. Graphical literacy: the quality of graphs in a large-circulation journal. Ann Emerg Med. 2002; 40: 317-322.

Cumming G, Fidler F, Vaux DL. Error bars in experimental biology. J Cell Biol. 2007; 177: 7-11.

Dar R, Serlin R, Omer H. Misuse of Statistical Tests in three Decades of Psychotherapy Research. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1994; 62: 75-82.

Davies HT. Describing and estimating: use and abuse of standard deviations and standard errors. Hosp Med. 1998; 59: 327-328.

Evans M. Presentation of manuscripts for publication in the British Journal of Surgery. Br J Surg. 1989; 76: 1311-1314.

Frazier E P, Schneider T, Michel M C. Effects of gender, age, and hypertension on beta-adrenergic receptor function in rat urinary bladder. Arch Pharmacology. 2006; 373: 300-309.

García-Berthou E, Alcaraz C. Incongruence between test statistics and P values in medical papers. BMC Med Res Method. 2004; 4: 13-17.

Gardenier JS, Resnik DB. The misuse of statistics: Concepts, tools, and a research agenda. Account Res. 2002; 9: 65-74.

Gardner MJ, Bond J. An exploratory study of statistical assessment of papers published in the British Medical Journal. JAMA. 1990; 263: 1355-1357.

Gelman A, Stern H. The difference between “significant” and “not significant” is not itself statistically significant. Am Stat. 2006; 60: 328-331.

Goodman S. A dirty dozen: Twelve p-value misconceptions. Sem Hematol. 2008; 45: 135-140.

Gore SM, Jones G, Thompson SG. The Lancet’s statistical review process: Areas for improvement by authors. Lancet. 1992; 340:100-102.

Hawkes J, Marsh W. Discovering Statistics. 2nd ed., Hawkes Publishing Inc., Charleston, SC. 2004.

Ioannidis JPA. Why most published research findings are false. PLoS Med. 2005; 2(8): 696-701.

Kanter MH, Taylor JR. Accuracy of statistical methods in Transfusion: a review of articles from July/August 1992 through June 1993. Transfusion. 1994; 34: 697-701.

Keselman HJ, Huberty CJ, Lix LM, Olejnik S, Cribbie RA, Donahue B, et al. Statistical practices of educational researchers: An analysis of their Anova, Manova and Ancova analyses. Rev Educ Res. 1998. 68: 350-386.

Kim A, Mallory C. Statistics for Evidence-based Practice in Nursing. Jones & Bartlett Learning, Burlington, MA. 2014.

Lehman E. Nonparametrics; Statistical Methods Based on Ranks. Springer, New York. 2007.

Limpert E, Stahel WA, Abbt M. Log-normal distribution across the sciences: Keys and clues. Biosciences. 2001; 51: 341-352.

Marshall SW. Testing with confidence: The use (and misuse) of confidence intervals in biomedical research. J. Sci Med Sport. 2004; 7: 135-137.

Masicampo EJ, Lalande DR. A peculiar prevalence of P values just below 0.05. Q J Exp Psychol. 2012; 65: 2271-2279.

McCance I. Assessment of statistical procedures used in papers in the Australian Veterinary Journal. Aust Vet J. 1995: 72: 322-328.

McGuigan SM. The use of statistics in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Br J Psych. 1995; 167: 683–688.

Messerli FH. Chocolate consumption, cognitive function, and Nobel laureates. New Engl J Med. 2012; 367: 1562-1564.

Moreira ED, Stein Z, Susser E. Reporting on methods of sub-group analysis in clinical trials: a survey of four scientific journals. Brazilian J Med Biol Res. 2001; 34:1441-1446.

Motulsky HJ, Brown RE. Detecting outliers when fitting data with nonlinear regression- A new method based on robust nonlinear regression and the false discovery rate. BMC Bioinformatics. 2006; 7: 123-143.

Motulsky, HJ. Intuitive Biostatistics: A Nonmathematical Guide to Statistical Thinking. 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, New York. 2010.

Motulsky, HJ. Intuitive Biostatistics: A Nonmathematical Guide to Statistical Thinking. 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, New York. 2014.

Nagele P. Misuse of standard error of the mean (SEM) when reporting variability of a sample. A critical evaluation of four anaesthesia journals. Br J Anaesth. 2001; 90: 514-516.

Nieuwenhuis S, Forstmann BU, Wagenmakers EJ. Erroneous analyses of interactions in neuroscience: A problem of significance. Nature Neuroscience. 2011; 14: 1105-1107.

Nikitin Y. Asymptotic relative efficiency in testing. International Encyclopedia of Statistical Sciences. Springer, New York. 2010.

Olsen CH. Review of the use of statistics in infection and immunity. Infect Immun. 2003; 71: 6689-6692.

Parker RA, Berman, NG. Sample size: More than calculations. Am Stat. 2003; 57: 166-170.

Petrie A, Watson, P. Statistics for Veterinary and Animal Science. 2nd ed., Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. 2006.

Power, Sample Size and Experimental Design Calculations. Washington, DC. Actualizado 18 julio 2015; citado 30 julio 2015. Disponible en:

Prinz FF, Schlange TT, Asadullah KK. Believe it or not: How much can we rely on published data on potential drug targets? Nature Rev Drug Discovery. 2011; 10: 712.

Schervish MJ. P values: What they are and what they are not? Am Stat. 1996; 50: 203-206.

Sheskin DJ. Handbook of Parametric and Nonparametric Statistical Procedures. 4th ed., Chapman & Hall/CRC, New York. 2007.

Shott S. Statistics simplified. Detecting statistical errors in veterinary research. JAVMA. 2011; 237: 305-308.

Simmons JP, Nelson LD, Simonsohn U. False-positive psychology: Undisclosed flexibility in data collection and analysis allows presenting anything as significant. Psychol Sci. 2011; 22: 1359-1366.

Academy of Medical Sciences. Symposium report “Reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research: improving research practice”. BBSRC, MRC & Wellcome Trust 2015.

Spector R, Vesell ES. Pharmacology and statistics: Recommendations to strengthen a productive partnership. Pharmacology. 2006; 77: 85-92.

Sterne JAC, Smith GD. Sifting the evidence-what’s wrong with significance tests? Brit Med J. 2001; 322: 226-231.

Strasak AM, Zaman Q, Pfeiffer KP, Göbel G, Ulmer, H. Statistical errors in medical research: A review of common pitfalls. Swiss Med Wkly. 2007; 137: 44-49.

Svensson S, Menkes DB, Lexchin J. Surrogate outcomes in clinical trials: A cautionary tale. JAMA Intern Med. 2013; 173: 611-612.

Vickers A. What is a P-value Anyway? Addison-Wesley, Pearson Education Inc. Boston. 2010.

White SJ. Statistical errors in papers in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Br J Psych. 1979; 135: 336-342.

Wilcox RR. Fundamentals of Modern Statistical Methods: Substantially Improving Power and Accuracy. 2nd ed., Springer, New York. 2010.

Zar JH. Biostatistical Analysis. 5th ed., Prentice Hall, New Jersey. 2010.

Licencia de Creative Commons

Este obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-SinObraDerivada 4.0 Internacional.