A pilot study is conducted when no measure of effect size is available
A good pilot study consists of at least 150-300 observations of an outcome. With fewer observations, the inferences yielded from statistical tests in a pilot study will possess less precision and accuracy. Many selection and observation biases exist in pilot studies.
A pilot study can also be conducted when trying to generate hypotheses or when measuring for rare outcomes.
Most often, the statistical results of a pilot study yield an effect size that is then used in an a priori sample size calculation for a future larger study. When entering into new empirical and clinical areas, pilot studies are often required to properly power studies to detect treatment effects of interest.
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