Beyond Bonferroni revisited: concerns over inflated false positive research findings in the fields of conservation genetics, biology, and medicine
White T., van der Ende J., Nichols TE.
© 2019, The Author(s). In 2006, Narum published a paper in Conservation Genetics emphasizing that Bonferroni correction for multiple testing can be highly conservative with poor statistical power (high Type II error). He pointed out that other approaches for multiple testing correction can control the false discovery rate (FDR) with a better balance of Type I and Type II errors and suggested that the approach of Benjamini and Yekutieli (BY) 2001 provides the most biologically relevant correction for evaluating the significance of population differentiation in conservation genetics. However, there are crucial differences between the original Benjamini and Yekutieli procedure and that described by Narum. After carefully reviewing both papers, we found an error due to the incorrect implementation of the BY procedure in Narum (Conserv Genet 7:783–787, 2006) such that the approach does not adequately control FDR. Since the incorrect BY approach has been increasingly used, not only in conservation genetics, but also in medicine and biology, it is important that the error is made known to the scientific community. In addition, we provide an overview of FDR approaches for multiple testing correction and encourage authors first and foremost to provide effect sizes for their results; and second, to be transparent in their descriptions of multiple testing correction. Finally, the impact of this error on conservation genetics and other fields will be study-dependent, as it is related to the number of true to false positives for each study.