I'm a novice in research and wondering if I need to calculate power to determine my sample size. My study is about collecting data from all patients that presented to a clinic for a period of 6 months. Since I am collecting data from all the presentations, would this still require power analysis? If so, could someone guide me on how to do a post hoc analysis as I heard this is the most suitable for a retrospective audit. I believe this is done after the data has been collected to check if the sample size is effective. So would my research proposal just include that a psot-hoc analysis will be completed after data collection has been completed..?

Happy to hear any suggestions if a another power analysis option is more suitable.


  • $\begingroup$ Why do you ask about post-hoc power when you haven't started the experiment? (I guess this from the phrase "my research proposal".) There may be opportunity to do a-priori power analysis instead. Why have you picked 6 months to collect data? Since longer study means more patients presented at the clinic, you can design (the length of) the study so that it achieves the desired power. $\endgroup$
    – dipetkov
    Oct 21, 2023 at 20:43

1 Answer 1


Post hoc power analysis is generally not recommended. See e.g. this article which says that they are "completely determined by p-value'' and demonstrates this. If the p value is high, power must be low and if the p value is low, power must be high.

More generally, the purpose of power analysis is to tell you how many subjects you need in your sample to have a good chance of getting a significant result if the null is, in fact, false by a certain amount.

Also see Hoenig & Heisey (2001), The Abuse of Power: The Pervasive Fallacy of Power Calculations for Data Analysis, in The American Statistician, 55, 19--24, and more references cited there.


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