Re: [R] Wilcoxon signed rank test and its requirements

From: Frank E Harrell Jr <>
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 2010 13:20:16 -0500

On 06/24/2010 12:40 PM, David Winsemius wrote:
> On Jun 23, 2010, at 9:58 PM, Atte Tenkanen wrote:
>> Thanks. What I have had to ask is that
>> how do you test that the data is symmetric enough?
>> If it is not, is it ok to use some data transformation?
>> when it is said:
>> "The Wilcoxon signed rank test does not assume that the data are
>> sampled from a Gaussian distribution. However it does assume that the
>> data are distributed symmetrically around the median. If the
>> distribution is asymmetrical, the P value will not tell you much about
>> whether the median is different than the hypothetical value."
> You are being misled. Simply finding a statement on a statistics
> software website, even one as reputable as Graphpad (???), does not mean
> that it is necessarily true. My understanding (confirmed reviewing
> "Nonparametric statistical methods for complete and censored data" by M.
> M. Desu, Damaraju Raghavarao, is that the Wilcoxon signed-rank test does
> not require that the underlying distributions be symmetric. The above
> quotation is highly inaccurate.

To add to what David and others have said, look at the kernel that the U-statistic associated with the WSR test uses: the indicator (0/1) of xi + xj > 0. So WSR tests H0:p=0.5 where p = the probability that the average of a randomly chosen pair of values is positive. [If there are ties this probably needs to be worded as P[xi + xj > 0] = P[xi + xj < 0], i neq j.


Frank E Harrell Jr   Professor and Chairman        School of Medicine
                      Department of Biostatistics   Vanderbilt University

______________________________________________ mailing list
PLEASE do read the posting guide
and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.
Received on Thu 24 Jun 2010 - 18:22:59 GMT

Archive maintained by Robert King, hosted by the discipline of statistics at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
Archive generated by hypermail 2.2.0, at Fri 25 Jun 2010 - 01:30:35 GMT.

Mailing list information is available at Please read the posting guide before posting to the list.

list of date sections of archive