Journals for insignificant results

April 21, 2017

(This article was originally published at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

Tom Daula writes:

I know you’re not a fan of hypothesis testing, but the journals in this blog post are an interesting approach to the file drawer problem. I’ve never heard of them or their like. An alternative take (given academia standard practice) is “Journal for XYZ Discipline papers that p-hacking and forking paths could not save.”

Psychology: Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis

Biomedicine: Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: Journal of Negative Results

In psychology, this sort of journal isn’t really needed because we already have PPNAS, where they publish articles in support of the null hypothesis all the time, they just don’t realize it!

OK, ok, all jokes aside, the above post recommends:

Is it time for Economics to catch up? . . . a number of prominent Economists have endorsed this idea (even if they are not ready to pioneer the initiative). So, imagine… a call for papers along the following lines:

Series of Unsurprising Results in Economics (SURE)

Is the topic of your paper interesting, your analysis carefully done, but your results are not “sexy”? If so, please consider submitting your paper to SURE. An e-journal of high-quality research with “unsurprising” findings.
How does it work:
— We accept papers from all fields of Economics…
— Which have been rejected at a journal indexed in EconLit…
— With the ONLY important reason being that their results are statistically insignificant or otherwise “unsurprising”.

I can’t imagine this working. Why not just publish everything on SSRN or whatever, and then this SURE can just link to the articles in question (along with the offending referee reports)?

Also, I’m reminded of the magazine McSweeney’s, which someone once told me had been founded based on the principle of publishing stories that had been rejected elsewhere.

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