Every once in a while, I work with a client who is stuck between a particular statistical rock and hard place.

It happens when they’re trying to run an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) model because they have a categorical independent variable and a continuous covariate.

The problem arises when a coauthor, committee member, or reviewer insists that ANCOVA is inappropriate in this situation because one of the following ANCOVA assumptions are not met:

1. The independent variable and the covariate are independent of each other.

2. There is no interaction between independent variable and the covariate.

If you look them up in any design of experiments textbook, which is usually where you’ll find information about ANOVA and ANCOVA, you will indeed find these assumptions. So the critic has nice references.

However, this is a case where it’s important to stop and think about whether the assumptions apply to your situation, and how dealing with the assumption will affect the analysis and the conclusions you can draw.