Cohen’s d needs to be readily interpretable: Comment on Shieh (2013) Academic Article uri icon


  • Shieh (2013) discussed in detail δ*, a proposed standardized effect size measure for the two-independent-groups design with heteroscedasticity. Shieh focused on inference-notably, the large challenge of calculating confidence intervals for δ*. I contend, however, that the standardizer chosen for δ*, meaning the units in which it is expressed, is appropriate for inference but causes δ* to be inconsistent with conventional Cohen's d. In addition, δ* depends on the relative sample sizes in the particular experiment and, thus, lacks the generality that is highly desirable if a standardized effect size is to be readily interpretable and also usable in meta-analysis. In the case of heteroscedasticity, I suggest that researchers should choose as standardizer for Cohen's δ the best available estimate of the SD of an appropriate population, usually the control population, in preference to δ* as discussed by Shieh.

publication date

  • December 2013