No evidence of publication bias in climate change science

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Non-significant results are less likely to be reported by authors and, when submitted for peer review, are less likely to be published by journal editors. This phenomenon, known collectively as publication bias, is seen in a variety of scientific disciplines and can erode public trust in the scientific method and the validity of scientific theories. Public trust in science is especially important for fields like climate change science, where scientific consensus can influence state policies on a global scale, including strategies for industrial and agricultural management and development. Here, we used meta-analysis to test for biases in the statistical results of climate change articles, including 1154 experimental results from a sample of 120 articles. Funnel plots revealed no evidence of publication bias given no pattern of non-significant results being under-reported, even at low sample sizes. However, we discovered three other types of systematic bias relating to writing style, the relative prestige of journals, and the apparent rise in popularity of this field: First, the magnitude of statistical effects was significantly larger in the abstract than the main body of articles. Second, the difference in effect sizes in abstracts versus main body of articles was especially pronounced in journals with high impact factors. Finally, the number of published articles about climate change and the magnitude of effect sizes therein both increased within 2 years of the seminal report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007.

Link to resource:

Type of resources: Reading

Education level(s): Graduate / Professional

Primary user(s): student, teacher

Subject area(s): Physical Science

Language(s): English