Questionable Research Practices Revisited

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The current discussion of questionable research practices (QRPs) is meant to improve the quality of science. It is, however, important to conduct QRP studies with the same scrutiny as all research. We note problems with overestimates of QRP prevalence and the survey methods used in the frequently cited study by John, Loewenstein, and Prelec. In a survey of German psychologists, we decomposed QRP prevalence into its two multiplicative components, proportion of scientists who ever committed a behavior and, if so, how frequently they repeated this behavior across all their research. The resulting prevalence estimates are lower by order of magnitudes. We conclude that inflated prevalence estimates, due to problematic interpretation of survey data, can create a descriptive norm (QRP is normal) that can counteract the injunctive norm to minimize QRPs and unwantedly damage the image of behavioral sciences, which are essential to dealing with many societal problems.

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Type of resources: Primary Source, Reading, Paper

Education level(s): College / Upper Division (Undergraduates)

Primary user(s): Student, Teacher

Subject area(s): Applied Science, Social Science

Language(s): English