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Perceptions and Practices of Replication by Social and Behavioral Scientists: Making Replications a Mandatory Element of Curricula Would Be Useful

Author

Listed:
  • Fecher, Benedikt

    () (DIW Berlin)

  • Fräßdorf, Mathis

    () (DIW Berlin)

  • Wagner, Gert G.

    () (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)

Abstract

We live in a time of increasing publication rates and specialization of scientific disciplines. More and more, the research community is facing the challenge of assuring the quality of research and maintaining trust in the scientific enterprise. Replication studies are necessary to detect erroneous research. Thus, the replicability of research is considered a hallmark of good scientific practice and it has lately become a key concern for research communities and science policy makers alike. In this case study we analyze perceptions and practices regarding replication studies in the social and behavioral sciences. Our analyses are based on a survey of almost 300 researchers that use data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), a multidisciplinary longitudinal multi-cohort study. We find that more than two thirds of respondents disagree with the statement that replications are not worthwhile, because major mistakes will be found at some point anyway. Nevertheless, most respondents are not willing to spend their time to conduct replication studies. This situation can be characterized as a "tragedy of the commons": everybody knows that replications are useful, but almost everybody counts on others to conduct them. Our most important finding concerning practical consequences is that among the few replications that are reported, a large majority is conducted in the context of teaching. In our view, this is a promising detail: in order to foster replicability, one avenue may be to make replication studies a mandatory part of curricula as well as of doctoral theses. Furthermore, we argue that replication studies need to be more attractive for researchers. For example, successful replications could be listed in the publication lists of replicated authors. Vice versa, data sharing needs to receive more recognition, for example by considering data production and subsequent data sharing as scientific output.

Suggested Citation

  • Fecher, Benedikt & Fräßdorf, Mathis & Wagner, Gert G., 2016. "Perceptions and Practices of Replication by Social and Behavioral Scientists: Making Replications a Mandatory Element of Curricula Would Be Useful," IZA Discussion Papers 9896, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9896
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Isabella Peters & Peter Kraker & Elisabeth Lex & Christian Gumpenberger & Juan Gorraiz, 2016. "Research data explored: an extended analysis of citations and altmetrics," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 107(2), pages 723-744, May.
    2. Nicola Lacetera & Lorenzo Zirulia, 2011. "The Economics of Scientific Misconduct," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(3), pages 568-603.
    3. Maren Duvendack & Richard W. Palmer-Jones & W. Robert Reed, 2015. "Replications in Economics: A Progress Report," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 12(2), pages 164–191-1, May.
    4. Andreoli-Versbach, Patrick & Mueller-Langer, Frank, 2014. "Open access to data: An ideal professed but not practised," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(9), pages 1621-1633.
    5. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:respol:v:48:y:2019:i:1:p:62-83 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:zbw:espost:172516 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:zbw:espost:200119 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Mueller-Langer, Frank & Fecher, Benedikt & Harhoff, Dietmar & Wagner, Gert G., 2019. "Replication studies in economics—How many and which papers are chosen for replication, and why?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 62-83.
    5. repec:gam:jpubli:v:7:y:2019:i:3:p:53-:d:250403 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    theory of science; replication; survey; SOEP;

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • C80 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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