Researcher degrees of freedom

Definition: refers to the flexibility often inherent in the scientific process, from hypothesis generation, designing and conducting a research study to processing the data and analyzing as well as interpreting and reporting results. Due to a lack of precisely defined theories and/or empirical evidence, multiple decisions are often equally justifiable. The term is sometimes used to refer to the opportunistic (ab-)use of this flexibility aiming to achieve desired results —e.g., when in- or excluding certain data— albeit the fact that technically the term is not inherently value-laden.

Related terms: Analytic Flexibility, Garden of forking paths, Model uncertainty, Multiverse analysis, P-hacking, Robustness (analyses), Specification curve analysis

References: Gelman and Loken (2013), Simmons et al. (2011), & Wicherts et al. (2016)

Drafted and Reviewed by: Tina Lonsdorf, Gilad Feldman, Helena Hartmann, Timo Roettger, Robbie C.M. van Aert, Flávio Azevedo

Note that we are currently working on an automated mechanism to link references cited above with their full-length version that can be found at https://forrt.org/glossary/references with all references used so far.