Research findings that are probably wrong cited far more than robust ones, study finds

Academics suspect papers with grabby conclusions are waved through more easily by reviewers.

Studies in science, psychology and economics journals that fail to hold up when others repeat them are cited more than 100 times as often as work that stands the test of time. 

Scientific research findings that are probably wrong gain far more attention than robust results, according to academics who suspect that the bar for publication may be lower for papers with grabbier conclusions.

Studies in top science, psychology and economics journals that fail to hold up when others repeat them are cited, on average, more than 100 times as often in follow-up papers than work that stands the test of time.

The finding – which is itself not exempt from the need for scrutiny – has led the authors to suspect that more interesting papers are waved through more easily by reviewers and journal editors and, once published, attract more attention. “It could be wasting time and resources,” said Dr Marta Serra-Garcia, who studies behavioural and experimental economics at the University of California in San Diego. “But we can’t conclude that something is true or not based on one study and one replication.” What is needed, she said, is a simple way to check how often studies have been repeated, and whether or not the original findings are confirmed.

Read the full paper on the Guardian

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