Wilcoxon test

From 2004 to 2008, a series of four brief, disagreeing papers in the journal Medical Education took up the question of whether and when it’s appropriate to analyze data from Likert scales (i.e., integers reflecting degrees of agreement with statements) with parametric or nonparametric statistical methods.

The Wilcoxon Rank Sum Test is often described as the non-parametric version of the two-sample t-test. You sometimes see it in analysis flowcharts after a question such as "is your data normal?" A "no" branch off this question will recommend a Wilcoxon test if you're comparing two groups of continuous measures.

So what is this Wilcoxon test? What makes it non-parametric? What does that even mean? And how do we implement it and interpret it? Those are some of the questions we aim to address in this post.