StatNote 38 : The sign test

Richard Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to specialist publication or newspaperArticle


The sign test is a simple non-parametric test which can be used on paired data, i.e., two related samples, matched samples, or repeated measurements on the same sample. It was developed by Wilcoxon before the more powerful and familiar ‘Wilcoxon signed-rank test’ described in a previous statnote . This statnote describes the use of the sign test with reference to two scenarios: (1) to compare the cleanliness of two hospital wards as assessed by a sample of observers and (2) to compare bacterial contamination on cloths and sponges from a domestic kitchen.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
Specialist publicationMicrobiologist
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2014


  • non-parametric statistics
  • sign test
  • Wilcoxon signed-rank test
  • paired data


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