Are the statistical tests the best way to deal with the biomarker selection problem?
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Statistical tests are a powerful set of tools when applied correctly, but unfortunately the extended misuse of them has caused great concern. Among many other applications, they are used in the detection of biomarkers so as to use the resulting p-values as a reference with which the candidate biomarkers are ranked. Although statistical tests can be used to rank, they have not been designed for that use. Moreover, there is no need to compute any p-value to build a ranking of candidate biomarkers. Those two facts raise the question of whether or not alternative methods which are not based on the computation of statistical tests that match or improve their performances can be proposed. In this paper, we propose two alternative methods to statistical tests. In addition, we propose an evaluation framework to assess both statistical tests and alternative methods in terms of both the performance and the reproducibility. The results indicate that there are alternative methods that can match or surpass methods based on statistical tests in terms of the reproducibility when processing real data, while maintaining a similar performance when dealing with synthetic data. The main conclusion is that there is room for the proposal of such alternative methods.