Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS Biol. 2017 Mar 2;15(3):e2000797. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2000797. eCollection 2017 Mar.

Empirical assessment of published effect sizes and power in the recent cognitive neuroscience and psychology literature.

Author information

Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS) and Department of Medicine, Department of Health Research and Policy, and Department of Statistics, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States of America.


We have empirically assessed the distribution of published effect sizes and estimated power by analyzing 26,841 statistical records from 3,801 cognitive neuroscience and psychology papers published recently. The reported median effect size was D = 0.93 (interquartile range: 0.64-1.46) for nominally statistically significant results and D = 0.24 (0.11-0.42) for nonsignificant results. Median power to detect small, medium, and large effects was 0.12, 0.44, and 0.73, reflecting no improvement through the past half-century. This is so because sample sizes have remained small. Assuming similar true effect sizes in both disciplines, power was lower in cognitive neuroscience than in psychology. Journal impact factors negatively correlated with power. Assuming a realistic range of prior probabilities for null hypotheses, false report probability is likely to exceed 50% for the whole literature. In light of our findings, the recently reported low replication success in psychology is realistic, and worse performance may be expected for cognitive neuroscience.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center