Model Building–choosing predictors–is one of those skills in statistics that is difficult to teach. It’s hard to lay out the steps, because at each step, you have to evaluate the situation and make decisions on the next step.
If you’re running purely predictive models, and the relationships among the variables aren’t the focus, it’s much easier. Go ahead and run a stepwise regression model. Let the data give you the best prediction.
But if the point is to answer a research question that describes relationships, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty.
It’s easy to say “use theory” or “test your research question” but that ignores a lot of practical issues. Like the fact that you may have 10 different variables that all measure the same theoretical construct, and it’s not clear which one to use. [Read more…] about 7 Practical Guidelines for Accurate Statistical Model Building