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When a researcher concludes that “no difference between groups was present,” there is the potential of the Type II error, which is indicative of low statistical power. Low power increases the chance of missing a difference between groups when, in fact, a difference really exists. The two primary reasons for low power are small sample size and small effect size, due to either large variation in the sample or treatments that do not have a substantial effect. When reading a scientific paper that has failed to find differences between groups, a critical reader should look for evidence from the author that the study had acceptable power.
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This article originally appeared in the Fall 1997 issue of the PPTA Newsletter (vol. 18, no. 4) and is reprinted here with permission.
© 1998 Hanley & Belfus, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.