Replication initiatives will not salvage the trustworthiness of psychology

BMC Psychol. 2016 May 31;4(1):28. doi: 10.1186/s40359-016-0134-3.


Replication initiatives in psychology continue to gather considerable attention from far outside the field, as well as controversy from within. Some accomplishments of these initiatives are noted, but this article focuses on why they do not provide a general solution for what ails psychology. There are inherent limitations to mass replications ever being conducted in many areas of psychology, both in terms of their practicality and their prospects for improving the science. Unnecessary compromises were built into the ground rules for design and publication of the Open Science Collaboration: Psychology that undermine its effectiveness. Some ground rules could actually be flipped into guidance for how not to conduct replications. Greater adherence to best publication practices, transparency in the design and publishing of research, strengthening of independent post-publication peer review and firmer enforcement of rules about data sharing and declarations of conflict of interest would make many replications unnecessary. Yet, it has been difficult to move beyond simple endorsement of these measures to consistent implementation. Given the strong institutional support for questionable publication practices, progress will depend on effective individual and collective use of social media to expose lapses and demand reform. Some recent incidents highlight the necessity of this.

Keywords: Publication bias; Randomized controlled trials; Reproducibility; p-hacking.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Peer Review, Research
  • Psychology*
  • Reproducibility of Results*
  • Research Design*