Why publishing everything is more effective than selective publishing of statistically significant results

PLoS One. 2014 Jan 17;9(1):e84896. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084896. eCollection 2014.


Background: De Winter and Happee examined whether science based on selective publishing of significant results may be effective in accurate estimation of population effects, and whether this is even more effective than a science in which all results are published (i.e., a science without publication bias). Based on their simulation study they concluded that "selective publishing yields a more accurate meta-analytic estimation of the true effect than publishing everything, (and that) publishing nonreplicable results while placing null results in the file drawer can be beneficial for the scientific collective" (p.4).

Methods and findings: Using their scenario with a small to medium population effect size, we show that publishing everything is more effective for the scientific collective than selective publishing of significant results. Additionally, we examined a scenario with a null effect, which provides a more dramatic illustration of the superiority of publishing everything over selective publishing.

Conclusion: Publishing everything is more effective than only reporting significant outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Publications / statistics & numerical data
  • Publishing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Statistics as Topic*

Grants and funding

VIDI Grant no. 016.125.385 from the Netherlands Organisation for Research awarded to Jelte Wicherts. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.