Recent research in psychology has highlighted a number of replication problems in the discipline, with publication bias – the preference for publishing original and positive results, and a resistance to publishing negative results and replications- identified as one reason for replication failure. However, little empirical research exists to demonstrate that journals explicitly refuse to publish replications. We reviewed the instructions to authors and the published aims of 1151 psychology journals and examined whether they indicated that replications were permitted and accepted. We also examined whether journal practices differed across branches of the discipline, and whether editorial practices differed between low and high impact journals. Thirty three journals (3%) stated in their aims or instructions to authors that they accepted replications. There was no difference between high and low impact journals. The implications of these findings for psychology are discussed.
The designing, collecting, analyzing, and reporting of psychological studies entail many choices that are often arbitrary. The opportunistic use of these so-called researcher degrees of freedom aimed at obtaining statistically significant results is problematic because it enhances the chances of false positive results and may inflate effect size estimates. In this review article, we present an extensive list of 34 degrees of freedom that researchers have in formulating hypotheses, and in designing, running, analyzing, and reporting of psychological research. The list can be used in research methods education, and as a checklist to assess the quality of preregistrations and to determine the potential for bias due to (arbitrary) choices in unregistered studies.
Effect sizes are the currency of psychological research. They quantify the results of a study to answer the research question and are used to calculate statistical power. The interpretation of effect sizes—when is an effect small, medium, or large?—has been guided by the recommendations Jacob Cohen gave in his pioneering writings starting in 1962: Either compare an effect with the effects found in past research or use certain conventional benchmarks. The present analysis shows that neither of these recommendations is currently applicable. From past publications without pre-registration, 900 effects were randomly drawn and compared with 93 effects from publications with pre-registration, revealing a large difference: Effects from the former (median r = .36) were much larger than effects from the latter (median r = .16). That is, certain biases, such as publication bias or questionable research practices, have caused a dramatic inflation in published effects, making it difficult to compare an actual effect with the real population effects (as these are unknown). In addition, there were very large differences in the mean effects between psychological sub-disciplines and between different study designs, making it impossible to apply any global benchmarks. Many more pre-registered studies are needed in the future to derive a reliable picture of real population effects.
Replicability and Reproducibility in Comparative Psychology Psychology faces a replication crisis. The Reproducibility Project: Psychology sought to replicate the effects of 100 psychology studies. Though 97% of the original studies produced statistically significant results, only 36% of the replication studies did so (Open Science Collaboration, 2015). This inability to replicate previously published results, however, is not limited to psychology (Ioannidis, 2005). Replication projects in medicine (Prinz et al., 2011) and behavioral economics (Camerer et al., 2016) resulted in replication rates of 25 and 61%, respectively, and analyses in genetics (Munafò, 2009) and neuroscience (Button et al., 2013) question the validity of studies in those fields. Science, in general, is reckoning with challenges in one of its basic tenets: replication. Comparative psychology also faces the grand challenge of producing replicable research. Though social psychology has born the brunt of most of the critique regarding failed replications, comparative psychology suffers from some of the same problems faced by social psychology (e.g., small sample sizes). Yet, comparative psychology follows the methods of cognitive psychology by often using within-subjects designs, which may buffer it from replicability problems (Open Science Collaboration, 2015). In this Grand Challenge article, I explore the shared and unique challenges of and potential solutions for replication and reproducibility in comparative psychology.