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Publication Decisions Revisited: The Effect of the Outcome of Statistical Tests on the Decision to Publish and Vice Versa

T. D. Sterling, W. L. Rosenbaum and J. J. Weinkam
The American Statistician
Vol. 49, No. 1 (Feb., 1995), pp. 108-112
DOI: 10.2307/2684823
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2684823
Page Count: 5
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Publication Decisions Revisited: The Effect of the Outcome of Statistical Tests on the Decision to Publish and Vice Versa
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Abstract

This article presents evidence that published results of scientific investigations are not a representative sample of results of all scientific studies. Research studies from 11 major journals demonstrate the existence of biases that favor studies that observe effects that, on statistical evaluation, have a low probability of erroneously rejecting the so-called null hypothesis (H0). This practice makes the probability of erroneously rejecting H0 different for the reader than for the investigator. It introduces two biases in the interpretation of the scientific literature: one due to multiple repetition of studies with false hypothesis, and one due to failure to publish smaller and less significant outcomes of tests of a true hypotheses. These practices distort the results of literature surveys and of meta-analyses. These results also indicate that practice leading to publication bias have not changed over a period of 30 years

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