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On choosing between fixed and random block effects in some no-interaction models. (English) Zbl 0958.62069
Summary: The purpose of this article is to strengthen the understanding of the relationship between a fixed-blocks and random-blocks analysis in models that do not include interactions between treatments and blocks. Treating the block effects as random has been recommended in the literature for balanced incomplete block designs (BIBD) because it results in smaller variances of treatment contrasts. This reduction in variance is large if the block-to-block variation relative to the total variation is small. However, this analysis is also more complicated because it results in a subjective interpretation of results if the block variance component is non-positive. The probability of a non-positive variance component is large precisely in those situations where a random-blocks analysis is useful – that is, when the block-to-block variation, relative to the total variation, is small.
In contrast, the analysis in which the block effects are fixed is computationally simpler and less subjective. The loss in power for some BIBD with a fixed effects analysis is trivial. In such cases, we recommend treating the block effects as fixed. For response surface experiments designed in blocks, however, an opposite recommendation is made. When block effects are fixed, the variance of the estimated response surface is not uniquely estimated, and in practice this variance is obtained by ignoring the block effects. It is argued that a more reasonable approach is to treat the block effects to be random than to ignore it.

MSC:
62K10 Statistical block designs
62K20 Response surface designs
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