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What Fuels Publication Bias? Theoretical and Empirical Analyses of Risk Factors Using the Caliper Test

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  • Katrin Auspurg

    ()
    (Universitaet Konstanz)

  • Thomas Hinz

    ()
    (Universitaet Konstanz)

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    Abstract

    Significance tests were originally developed to enable more objective evaluations of research results. Yet the strong orientation towards statistical significance encourages biased results, a phenomenon termed “publication bias”. Publication bias occurs whenever the likelihood or time-lag of publication, or the prominence, language, impact factor of journal space or the citation rate of studies depend on the direction and significance of research findings. Although there is much evidence concerning the existence of publication bias in all scientific disciplines and although its detrimental consequences for the progress of the sciences have been known for a long time, all attempts to eliminate the bias have failed. The present article reviews the history and logic of significance testing, the state of research on publication bias, and existing practical recommendations. After demonstrating that more systematical research on the risk factors of publication bias is needed, the paper suggests two new directions for publication bias research. First, a more comprehensive theoretical model based on theories of rational choice and economics as well as on the sociology of science is sketched out. Publication bias is recognized as the outcome of a social dilemma that cannot be overcome by moral pleas alone. Second, detection methods for publication bias going beyond meta-analysis, ones that are more suitable for testing causal hypotheses, are discussed. In particular, the “caliper test” seems well-suited for conducting theoretically motivated comparisons across heterogeneous research fields like sociology. Its potential is demonstrated by testing hypotheses on (a) the relevance of explicitly vs. implicitly stated research propositions and on (b) the relevance of the number of authors on incidence rates of publication bias in 50 papers published in leading German sociology journals.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics in its journal Journal of Economics and Statistics.

    Volume (Year): 231 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 5-6 (November)
    Pages: 636-660

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    Handle: RePEc:jns:jbstat:v:231:y:2011:i:5-6:p:636-660

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    Related research

    Keywords: Significance testing; publication bias; caliper test; rational choice; sociology of science.;

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    References

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    1. Gerber, Alan & Malhotra, Neil, 2008. "Do Statistical Reporting Standards Affect What Is Published? Publication Bias in Two Leading Political Science Journals," International Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(3), pages 313-326, October.
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    3. Orley Ashenfelter & Colm Harmon & Hessel Oosterbeek, 1999. "A Review of Estimates of the Schooling/Earnings Relationship, with Tests for Publication Bias," Working Papers 804, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    4. T. D. Stanley, 2005. "Beyond Publication Bias," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 309-345, 07.
    5. Hristos Doucouliagos & T.D. Stanley, 2008. "Theory Competition and Selectivity: Are All Economic Facts Greatly Exaggerated?," Economics Series 2008_06, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
    6. David M Levy & Sandra J Peart, 2008. "Inducing Greater Transparency: Towards the Establishment of Ethical Rules for Econometrics," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 34(1), pages 103-114, Winter.
    7. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," NBER Working Papers 14723, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
    9. T.D Stanley & Hristos Doucouliagos, 2007. "Identifying and Correcting Publication Selection Bias in the Efficiency-Wage Literature: Heckman Meta-Regression," Economics Series 2007_11, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
    10. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-61, September.
    11. Stanley, T. D. & Jarrell, Stephen B. & Doucouliagos, Hristos, 2010. "Could It Be Better to Discard 90% of the Data? A Statistical Paradox," The American Statistician, American Statistical Association, vol. 64(1), pages 70-77.
    12. Michael Graber & Andrey Launov & Klaus Wälde, 2008. "Publish or Perish? The Increasing Importance of Publications for Prospective Economics Professors in Austria, Germany and Switzerland," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 9, pages 457-472, November.
    13. Paula E. Stephan, 1996. "The Economics of Science," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1199-1235, September.
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    Cited by:
    1. Brodeur, Abel & Lé, Mathias & Sangnier, Marc & Zylberberg, Yanos, 2013. "Star Wars: The Empirics Strike Back," IZA Discussion Papers 7268, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00710122 is not listed on IDEAS

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