Failure to Reject the p-value is Not the Same as Accepting it: The Development, Validation, and Administration of the KPVMI Instrument

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study was to investigate on a national scale the baseline level of p-value fluency of future researchers (i.e., doctoral students). To that end, two research questions were investigated. The first research question, Can a sufficiently reliable and valid measure of p-value misinterpretations (in a research context) be constructed?, was addressed via the development and validation of the Keller P-value Misinterpretation Inventory instrument (KPVMI). An iterative process of expert review, pilot testing, and field testing resulted in an adequately reliable measure (Alpha = .8030) of p-value fluency as assessed across 18 misinterpretations and 2 process levels as well as an independently validated sub-measure of p-value fluency in context as assessed across 18 misinterpretations (Alpha = .8298). The second research question, What do the results of the KPVMI administration tell us about the current level of p-value fluency among doctoral students nationally?, was addressed via analysis of a subset of the field test data (n = 147) with respect to performance on the subset of items considered sufficiently validated as developed in Phases I-III (KPVMI-1). The median score was 10/18 items answered correctly indicating that future researchers on the aggregate struggle to properly interpret and report p-values in context; furthermore, there was insufficient evidence to indicate training and experience are positively correlated with performance. These results aligned with the extant literature regarding the p-value misinterpretations of practicing researchers.



p-values, research methods, statistical knowledge