Preprint / Version 3

No Estimation without Inference

A Response to the International Society of Physiotherapy Journal Editors




physical therapy, statistical significance, inference, estimation


Recently, the journal Physical Therapy published a joint editorial: Elkins, M. R. et al. Statistical inference through estimation: recommendations from the International Society of Physiotherapy Journal Editors. Phys. Ther. 102, (2022).

This editorial was published on behalf of the International Society of Physiotherapy Journal Editors (ISPJE), recommending that researchers stop using null-hypothesis significance tests and adopt “estimation methods”. Further, the editorial warns that this is not merely an idea to consider, but a coming policy of journals: “the [ISPJE] will be expecting manuscripts to use estimation methods instead of null hypothesis statistical tests”.

However, the Editorial is deeply flawed in its statistical reasoning and in this critical commentary I will show that the Editorial: (1) fails to adequately grapple with the inherent connection between “statistical inference” and “estimation” methods, (2) presents several misleading arguments about the flaws of significance tests, and (3) presents an alternative that is, in itself, a form of significance test – the minimal effects test. Finally, I end with a short list of more urgent problems that the ISPJE could work to address.


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Additional Files


2022-07-17 — Updated on 2022-07-31