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Peer review: US behavioural scientists more likely to exaggerate findings?

So a just-published study claims.

According to Monday’s article in Nature:

Unconscious biases may drive researchers to overestimate their findings.

US behavioural researchers have been handed a dubious distinction — they are more likely than their colleagues in other parts of the world to exaggerate findings, according to a study published today.

Which is interesting because the guy whose research dodges kicked off the recent flurry was Dutch.

The researchers into the problem

found that, worldwide, behavioural studies were more likely than non-behavioural studies to report ‘extreme effects’ — findings that deviated from the overall effects reported by the meta-analyses.? And US-based behavioural researchers were more likely than behavioural researchers elsewhere to report extreme effects that deviated in favour of their starting hypotheses.

“It has to be because of methodological choices made before the study is submitted,” Fanelli says, possibly under pressure from the ‘publish or perish’ mentality that takes hold when career progress depends on high-profile publications. More.

Study: Fanelli, D. & Ioannidis, J. P. A. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1302997110 (2013).

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2 Responses to Peer review: US behavioural scientists more likely to exaggerate findings?

  1. Science is objective; scientists are not. It’s really quite simple.

  2. Do these people just become alcoholics or something? How do you base your entire career on a series of lies?

    I’ve been working for the government in one form or another for 40 years now, and I understand that lying makes the world go round (or at least keeps the budget funded), but I’ve generally managed to avoid being the guy who actually took the data and turned it into lies. In fact I’ve been, ah, told I didn’t need to come back next week because I couldn’t lie properly.

    So I have great difficulty understanding a person who goes through the trouble to get an advanced degree in some Science and then does nothing but falsify the analysis. I believe the guy in Europe simply stopped doing any of the experiments and just created results in his office. Is this evidence of a severe psychiatric disorder?

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