Ccollecting Data

The third step in hypothesis testing is to collect the study data. A population is defined as the entire set of individuals of interest. In our example, all the mice of line A and all the mice of line B are the populations of interest. Most of the time, it is impossible and unnecessary to collect data from the entire population in order to test a hypothesis. In practice, researchers usually collect data from a subset of the population and generalize the finding from this subset to the original population. This subset is called a sample. Ideally, the sample used for a study is a random sample, which implies that every individual in the population has an equal probability of being selected. This ensures that the sample represents the population well with respect to the variation within the population. Sampling is a complex issue that is beyond the scope of this chapter. The interested reader is referred to Thompson (2002).

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