Second-generation p-values: Improved rigor, reproducibility, & transparency in statistical analyses


Verifying that a statistically significant result is scientifically meaningful is not only good scientific practice, it is a natural way to control the Type I error rate. Here we introduce a novel extension of the p-value—a second-generation p-value (pδ)–that formally accounts for scientific relevance and leverages this natural Type I Error control. The approach relies on a pre-specified interval null hypothesis that represents the collection of effect sizes that are scientifically uninteresting or are practically null. The second-generation p-value is the proportion of data-supported hypotheses that are also null hypotheses. As such, second-generation p-values indicate when the data are compatible with null hypotheses (pδ = 1), or with alternative hypotheses (pδ = 0), or when the data are inconclusive (0 < pδ < 1). Moreover, second-generation p-values provide a proper scientific adjustment for multiple comparisons and reduce false discovery rates. This is an advance for environments rich in data, where traditional p-value adjustments are needlessly punitive. Second-generation p-values promote transparency, rigor and reproducibility of scientific results by a priori specifying which candidate hypotheses are practically meaningful and by providing a more reliable statistical summary of when the data are compatible with alternative or null hypotheses.

In PLoS One