Re: [R] The three routines in R that calculate the wilcoxon signed-rank test give different p-values.......which is correct?

From: Peter Ehlers <ehlers_at_ucalgary.ca>
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2011 03:32:28 -0700

On 2011-04-12 16:57, Michael G Rupert wrote:
> I have a question concerning the Wilcoxon signed-rank test, and
> specifically, which R subroutine I should use for my particular dataset.
> There are three different commands in R (that I'm aware of) that calculate
> the Wilcoxon signed-rank test; wilcox.test, wilcox.exact, and
> wilcoxsign_test. When I run the three commands on the same dataset, I get
> different p-values. I'm hoping that someone can give me guidance on the
> strengths and weaknesses of each command, why they produce different
> p-values, and which one is the most appropriate for my particular needs.
>
> First, let me describe the dataset I am working with. The project I am
> working on collected water samples from groups/networks of about 30 water
> wells and analyzed them for nitrate, major ions, and other chemical
> constituents. We revisited those same wells about 10 years later and
> analyzed the water samples for the same chemical constituents. I now have
> a paired dataset, and the question I would like to answer is whether there
> was a "significant" change in concentrations of those chemical
> constituents (such as nitrate or chloride). Concentrations measured in
> water from some wells have increased, some have decreased, and some have
> stayed the same over the ten-year time period. In water from some wells,
> the concentrations were below the laboratory detection limits, so those
> concentrations are "tied" at the reporting level. The following is an
> example of the data I am evaluating.
>
> x<- c(13.60, 9.10, 22.01, 9.08, 1.97, 2.81, 0.66, 0.97, 0.21, 2.23, 0.08,
> 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06,
> 0.06, 0.06, 3.44, 15.18, 5.25, 4.27, 17.81)
> y<- c( 4.32, 3.39, 16.36, 7.10, 0.08, 2.02, 0.19, 0.59, 0.06, 2.15, 0.06,
> 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06, 0.06,
> 0.06, 0.06, 4.02, 16.13, 7.30, 7.98, 24.37)
>
> The nonparametric Wilcoxon signed-rank test seems to be the most
> appropriate test for these data. There are two different methods to
> calculate the signed-rank test. The first is by Wilcoxon (1945), who
> discards any tied data and then calculates the signed ranks. The second
> method incorporates tied values in the ranking procedure (see J.W. Pratt,
> 1959, Remarks on zeros and ties in the Wilcoxon signed rank procedure:
> Journal of the American Statistical Association, Vol. 54, No. 287, pp.
> 655-667). There are two commands in R that calculate the original method
> by Wilcoxon (that I know of), wilcox.test and wilcoxsign_test (make sure
> to include the argument "zero.method = c("Wilcoxon")"). There are two
> other commands in R that incorporate ties in the signed-rank test,
> wilcox.exact and wilcoxsign_test (make sure to include the
> argument"zero.method = c("Pratt")").
>
> Here's my problem. I get different p-values from each of the 4 signed-rank
> tests in R, and I don't know which one to believe. Wilcox.test and
> wilcoxsign_test(zero.method = c("Wilcoxon") calculate the standard
> Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Even though they are not designed to deal with
> tied data, they should at least calculate the same p-value, but they do
> not. I ran the same datasets in SYSTAT and Minitab to check on the results
> from R. Minitab gives the same results as wilcox.test, and SYSTAT gives
> the same results as wilcoxsign_test(zero.method = c("Wilcoxon").
> Similarly, wilcox.exact and wilcoxsign_test(zero.method = c("Pratt")) are
> designed to incorporate ties, but they give different p-values from each
> other. The signed-rank test procedure is relatively straightforward, so
> I'm surprised I'm not getting identical results.
>
> To check on these R commands, I calculated the signed-rank tests using the
> dataset shown on page 658-659 of Pratt (1959). These R routines do not
> produce the same results as that listed in Pratt, which makes me think
> that the R routines are not calculating the statistics correctly.

Ahem .... that's a pretty strong claim.

Actually, the problem is user misunderstanding and the relevant help pages do tell you where the differences lie.

Let's take the 3 functions one at a time, using your x,y data from Pratt:

  1. wilcox.test() in the stats package This function automatically switches to using a Normal approximation when there are ties in the data:

  wilcox.test(x, y, paired=TRUE)$p.value #[1] 0.05802402
(You can suppress the warning (due to ties) by specifying the argument 'exact=FALSE'.)

This function also uses a continuity correction unless told not to:

  wilcox.test(x, y, paired=TRUE, correct=FALSE)$p.value #[1] 0.05061243

2. wilcox.exact() in pkg exactRankTests
This function can handle ties (using the "Wilcoxon" method) with an 'exact' calculation:

  wilcox.exact(x, y, paired=TRUE)$p.value #[1] 0.0546875

If you want the Normal approximation:

  wilcox.exact(x, y, paired=TRUE, exact=FALSE)$p.value #[1] 0.05061243 <-- cf. above

3. wilcoxsign_test() in pkg coin
This is the most comprehensive of these functions. It is also the only one that offers the "Pratt" method of handling ties. It will default to this method and a Normal approximation:

  pvalue(wilcoxsign_test(x ~ y))
#[1] 0.08143996

  pvalue(wilcoxsign_test(x ~ y, zero.method="Pratt",

         distribution="asympt"))
#[1] 0.08143996

You can get the results from wilcox.exact() with

  pvalue(wilcoxsign_test(x ~ y, zero.method="Wilcoxon",

         distribution="asympt"))
#[1] 0.05061243

and

  pvalue(wilcoxsign_test(x ~ y, zero.method="Wilcoxon",

         dist="exact"))
#[1] 0.0546875

As to which method you should use, that's up to you.

Peter Ehlers

The
> following text shows the commands I use in R to calculate the signed-rank
> test using these different R commands:
>
> Thanks in advance for any assistance.
>
> --Mike
>
> #################################################################################
> library(exactRankTests) #this loads the package for calculating the
> modified signed-rank test
> library(coin) #this adds additional routines for the wilcoxon signed-rank
> test and the Pratt signed-rank test
> #
> # Data from Page 658 of Pratt
> x<- c(1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 7, 10, 12, 13, 16, 17)
> y<- c(1, 1, 3, 4, 6, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1)
> #
> # STANDARD WILCOXON SIGNED RANK USING WILCOX.TEST
> wilcox.test(x, y, alternative='two.sided', paired=TRUE)
> # STANDARD WILCOXON SIGNED-RANK USING WILCOXSIGN_TEST.
> wilcoxsign_test (x ~ y, zero.method = c("Wilcoxon"))
> #
> #
> # MODIFIED WILCOXON SIGNED-RANK USING WILCOX.EXACT
> wilcox.exact(x, y, alternative='two.sided', paired=TRUE, mu=0)
> # PRATT SIGNED-RANK TEST
> wilcoxsign_test (x ~ y, zero.method = c("Pratt"))
> [[alternative HTML version deleted]]
>
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https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help PLEASE do read the posting guide http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code. Received on Wed 13 Apr 2011 - 10:36:10 GMT

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