The Importance of Assumption Testing

Posted January 4, 2017

As you prepare to conduct your statistics, it is important to consider testing the assumptions that go with your analysis. Assumption testing of your chosen analysis allows you to determine if you can correctly draw conclusions from the results of your analysis. You can think of assumptions as the requirements you must fulfill before you can conduct your analysis. Much like you cannot drive a car until you reach a certain age and demonstrate knowledge of the rules of the road, you cannot conduct parametric analyses without demonstrating that your data follows the rules of your analysis.

In thinking about it another way, suppose you visit your favorite butcher to buy deli meat. You purchase a container of pre-sliced meats because you know the butcher and he slices your deli meat just the way you like it. Without inspecting the package, you confidently purchase your meat, and take it home to prepare a sandwich. Upon opening the package, you see that the meat is sliced thinner than you prefer and immediately conclude that your butcher is losing his touch. You purchased your meat and made your conclusion regarding your butcher’s skills based upon the assumption that he was the one that sliced your meat. However, your conclusion is incorrect if your assumption is incorrect. Your assumption would be incorrect if the butcher had not prepared the meat, but instead it was prepared by his apprentice.

The statistical assumptions of your study are based upon the type of analysis you plan to conduct. I recommend Field’s (2013) text regarding statistical analyses. Field provides explanations of the different statistical analyses, the assumptions of the analyses, and the tests for the analyses that are very comprehensible for any level of researcher.

Assumption testing helps you to ensure that you are not drawing false conclusions from your analysis. As you develop your results chapter you will be tasked with numerous steps to develop a solid, scholarly dissertation. Testing your assumptions is just one of those steps. Hopefully this helps underscore the value of assumption testing and helps you proceed smoothly through your dissertation journey.

Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS statistics. Sage.

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