Quality of statistical reporting in developmental disability journals

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Abstract

Null hypothesis significance testing (NHST) dominates quantitative data analysis, but its use is controversial and has been heavily criticized. The American Psychological Association has advocated the reporting of effect sizes (ES), confidence intervals (CIs), and statistical power analysis to complement NHST results to provide a more comprehensive understanding of research findings. The aim of this paper is to carry out a sample survey of statistical reporting practices in two journals with the highest h5-index scores in the areas of developmental disability and rehabilitation. Using a checklist that includes critical recommendations by American Psychological Association, we examined 100 randomly selected articles out of 456 articles reporting inferential statistics in the year 2013 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (JADD) and Research in Developmental Disabilities (RDD). The results showed that for both journals, ES were reported only half the time (JADD 59.3%; RDD 55.87%). These findings are similar to psychology journals, but are in stark contrast to ES reporting in educational journals (73%). Furthermore, a priori power and sample size determination (JADD 10%; RDD 6%), along with reporting and interpreting precision measures (CI: JADD 13.33%; RDD 16.67%), were the least reported metrics in these journals, but not dissimilar to journals in other disciplines. To advance the science in developmental disability and rehabilitation and to bridge the research-to-practice divide, reforms in statistical reporting, such as providing supplemental measures to NHST, are clearly needed.

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