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Detecting p-hacking

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  • Graham Elliott
  • Nikolay Kudrin
  • Kaspar Wuthrich

Abstract

We analyze what can be learned from tests for p-hacking based on distributions of t-statistics and p-values across multiple studies. We analytically characterize restrictions on these distributions that conform with the absence of p-hacking. This forms a testable null hypothesis and suggests statistical tests for p-hacking. We extend our results to p-hacking when there is also publication bias, and also consider what types of distributions arise under the alternative hypothesis that researchers engage in p-hacking. We show that the power of statistical tests for detecting p-hacking is low even if p-hacking is quite prevalent.

Suggested Citation

  • Graham Elliott & Nikolay Kudrin & Kaspar Wuthrich, 2019. "Detecting p-hacking," Papers 1906.06711, arXiv.org, revised Oct 2019.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1906.06711
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(3), pages 313-326, October.
    2. Joseph P. Romano & Michael Wolf, 2011. "Testing for monotonicity in expected asset returns," ECON - Working Papers 017, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Jan 2013.
    3. Abel Brodeur & Mathias Lé & Marc Sangnier & Yanos Zylberberg, 2016. "Star Wars: The Empirics Strike Back," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 1-32, January.
    4. Brodeur, Abel & Cook, Nikolai & Heyes, Anthony, 2018. "Methods Matter: P-Hacking and Causal Inference in Economics," IZA Discussion Papers 11796, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    6. repec:bla:obuest:v:81:y:2019:i:4:p:797-816 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Christopher A. Carolan & Joshua M. Tebbs, 2005. "Nonparametric tests for and against likelihood ratio ordering in the two-sample problem," Biometrika, Biometrika Trust, vol. 92(1), pages 159-171, March.
    8. Beare, Brendan K. & Moon, Jong-Myun, 2015. "Nonparametric Tests Of Density Ratio Ordering," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(03), pages 471-492, June.
    9. Isaiah Andrews & Maximilian Kasy, 2019. "Identification of and Correction for Publication Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(8), pages 2766-2794, August.
    10. Camerer, Colin & Dreber, Anna & Forsell, Eskil & Ho, Teck-Hua & Huber, Jurgen & Johannesson, Magnus & Kirchler, Michael & Almenberg, Johan & Altmejd, Adam & Chan, Taizan & Heikensten, Emma & Holzmeist, 2016. "Evaluating replicability of laboratory experiments in Economics," MPRA Paper 75461, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. repec:bla:jorssc:v:34:y:1985:i:3:p:320-325 is not listed on IDEAS
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