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PLoS One. 2018 Jul 16;13(7):e0200303. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0200303. eCollection 2018.

Questionable research practices in ecology and evolution.

Author information

1
School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia.
2
Biology Department, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA, United States of America.
3
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
4
School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia.

Abstract

We surveyed 807 researchers (494 ecologists and 313 evolutionary biologists) about their use of Questionable Research Practices (QRPs), including cherry picking statistically significant results, p hacking, and hypothesising after the results are known (HARKing). We also asked them to estimate the proportion of their colleagues that use each of these QRPs. Several of the QRPs were prevalent within the ecology and evolution research community. Across the two groups, we found 64% of surveyed researchers reported they had at least once failed to report results because they were not statistically significant (cherry picking); 42% had collected more data after inspecting whether results were statistically significant (a form of p hacking) and 51% had reported an unexpected finding as though it had been hypothesised from the start (HARKing). Such practices have been directly implicated in the low rates of reproducible results uncovered by recent large scale replication studies in psychology and other disciplines. The rates of QRPs found in this study are comparable with the rates seen in psychology, indicating that the reproducibility problems discovered in psychology are also likely to be present in ecology and evolution.

PMID:
30011289
PMCID:
PMC6047784
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0200303
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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