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Evaluating solutions to the problem of false positives

Thomas Gall () and Zacharias Maniadis

Research Policy, 2019, vol. 48, issue 2, 506-515

Abstract: A current challenge for the scientific community is the choice of appropriate policies to reduce the rate of false positives. Existing proposals differ in whether to prioritize tackling omission through transparency requirements, punishing more severe transgressions, or possibly both. We use a formal model to evaluate these possible solutions. We find that a policy that prohibitively increases the cost of ‘misdemeanor’ types of questionable research practices robustly decreases the overall rate of researcher misconduct, because the rate of ‘felonies’, such as fabrication, also decreases. Therefore proposals that aim to prevent lying by omission by enforcing reporting guidelines are likely to be effective in reducing researcher misconduct, but measures such as government audits (purported to counteract pure fraud) can backfire. Moreover, we find that an increase in the rewards of publication need not increase overall misconduct.

Keywords: Researcher misconduct; Reproducibility; False positives; Questionable research practices (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C72 Z1 L38 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2017.12.005

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