PerspectiveResearch Design

Breaking Free of Sample Size Dogma to Perform Innovative Translational Research

Science Translational Medicine  15 Jun 2011:
Vol. 3, Issue 87, pp. 87ps24
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001628

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Abstract

Innovative clinical and translational research is often delayed or prevented by reviewers’ expectations that any study performed in humans must be shown in advance to have high statistical power. This supposed requirement is not justifiable and is contradicted by the reality that increasing sample size produces diminishing marginal returns. Studies of new ideas often must start small (sometimes even with an n of 1) because of cost and feasibility concerns, and recent statistical work shows that small sample sizes for such research can produce more projected scientific value per dollar spent than larger sample sizes. Renouncing false dogma about sample size would remove a serious barrier to innovation and translation.

Footnotes

  • Citation: P. Bacchetti, S. G. Deeks, J. M. McCune, Breaking Free of Sample Size Dogma to Perform Innovative Translational Research. Sci. Transl. Med. 3, 87ps24 (2011).

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