Summative Scale Scores and Parametric Statistics

Occasionally, doctoral students are challenged on the validity of using parametric statistics to analyze summative scale scores. I’m referring to a scale score that is derived by averaging (or summing) many Likert-type survey questions to measure an underlying construct like “emotional intelligence” for example. So, for example, let’s say . . .

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My Proposal has been accepted, can you analyze my results?

Probably, but many doctoral students do not have an “actual statistician” on their committee. The methodologist on your committee surely has more experience with statistics than your other committee members, but that is very different than having someone with an advanced degree in statistics and 14 years or more of experience as a statistical consultant on your committee. The point is, I have seen many committee-approved dissertation proposals that have research questions that do not lend themselves well to statistical analysis.

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I Tried to Analyze my Data Myself, Can You Review my Results?

I have had a number of doctoral students call me with a question something like this: I purchased the student version of SPSS. I was able to calculate the mean and the frequency and percent for my variables, and I even tried to compare my independent and dependent variables with an ANOVA, but I don’t know if I did it right. Would you please review my work and see if I did it right?

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Testimonials From Past Clients

My name is Steve Creech. I have a Master’s degree in probability and statistics and I have been employed full time as a professional statistician since 1993. I created my own statistical consulting business, Statistically Significant Consulting, LLC, specifically to help doctoral students with the statistical aspects of their dissertation. I offer statistics consulting to doctoral students on a fulltime basis. You can read more about me and my statistical consulting services on my home page:, or you can contact me by email:, or phone: 800-357-0321. Here are some testimonials from past clients who have something they would like to share with others about their experiences working with me.

Were You Advised to Hire a Statistician?

Many of my clients have reported to me that their advisor recommended they hire a statistician to help with their dissertation. I am curious to know how many of you out there have had this happen. In my view, statistical consulting benefits both the doctoral student and the mentor. Often times the mentor has limited experience with statistics.

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How Did you First Go About Handling Your Statistics?

Once you got more heavily into the statistical aspects of your study (e.g. development of your methods chapter), what was the first thing you did? Many of my clients have told me they didn’t even know statisticians existed. They came to me only after many rewrites as a result of criticisms from their committee regarding their statistical considerations. I also have heard comments from clients that they had a statistics class or two several years ago and since have forgotten everything.

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When Did Statistics Start to Become an Issue For You?

At what point during the development of your dissertation did you begin to struggle with statistics? In my view, statistical considerations come into play almost as soon as you have developed a topic. For all practical purposes, a statistical consultant is probably not necessary until you have spent time developing the topic and doing some literature review.

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