I have run a stepwise regression on R. However, the summary of the final model includes some factors that are not significant. Why have these factors not been removed? Should I remove these from my model? The VIFs of these factors are all under 5.

  • $\begingroup$ Mind sharing the method that you used? Was it stepAIC? $\endgroup$ – Ben Ogorek Jul 29 '14 at 3:50
  • $\begingroup$ I just used the code "summary(step(model))". "Model" being the name of the model used. $\endgroup$ – Blair Outhwaite Jul 29 '14 at 3:59
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    $\begingroup$ What made you use stepwise regression? Do you know how to run simulation studies that demonstrate how poor these methods perform? $\endgroup$ – Frank Harrell Jul 29 '14 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ Do you mean some levels of one or more factors are not significant in the output from summary(model)? Stepwise methods should rightly work on the amount of variance (expressed in one of a number of ways) explained by an entire term - i.e. over all levels of a factor. Some levels may not be significant but one or more levels will be. However, what you can infer from the $t$ stats and their p-values in that summary output is limited owing to multiple testing (one per $t$) and, more importantly the inherent problems of stepwise procedures which render the $p$ values largely uninformative. $\endgroup$ – Gavin Simpson Jul 29 '14 at 4:26
  • $\begingroup$ I bet if you used $\alpha = 0.1573$ they're all significant, though. How'd I do? Save your applause, though, it's just a little algebra. $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Jul 29 '14 at 6:18


The reason why the final model includes terms with p-values above the customary threshold is that the function you used, step, uses a different criterion called the "AIC." AIC is a summary evaluation of the entire model at each stage, and one model may have a smaller (i.e., better) AIC even though it contains terms with higher p-values.

If you want to learn about AIC, there are a few ways to approach it. One is to see it as a penalized likelihood. Another is to view it from the lens of Information Theory.

The AIC-based sequential method is a competing (or perhaps complementary) algorithm to the one you were probably thinking of based on p-values. Either one has merits depending on the context. By the way, sequential selection is still an area of active research.


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