Sigsearch: a new term for post hoc unplanned search for statistically significant relationships with the intent to create publishable findings

Account Res. 2010 Sep;17(5):270-2. doi: 10.1080/08989621.2010.511570.


Post-hoc secondary data analysis with no prespecified hypotheses has been discouraged by textbook authors and journal editors alike. Unfortunately no single term describes this phenomenon succinctly. I would like to coin the term "sigsearch" to define this practice and bring it within the teaching lexicon of statistics courses. Sigsearch would include any unplanned, post-hoc search for statistical significance using multiple comparisons of subgroups. It would also include data analysis with outcomes other than the prespecified primary outcome measure of a study as well as secondary data analyses of earlier research.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Research / statistics & numerical data*