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Why you shouldn’t trust scientists from Michigan and DC but should pay attention to ones from Nevada and Mississippi:


A large analysis of papers in all disciplines shows that researchers report more “positive” results for their experiments in US states where academics publish more frequently. The results are reported in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE on April 21st, by Daniele Fanelli, of the University of Edinburgh.

The condition of today’s scientists is commonly described by the expression “publish or perish”. Their careers are increasingly evaluated based on the sheer number of papers listed in their CVs, and by the number of citations received – a measure of scientific quality that is hotly debated. To secure jobs and funding, therefore, researchers must publish continuously. The problem is that papers are likely to be accepted by journals and to be cited depending on the results they report.

This suggests that scientists working in more competitive and productive environments are more likely to make their results look “positive”. It remains to be established whether they do this by simply writing the papers differently or by tweaking and selecting their data.

Positive results were less than half the total in Nevada, North Dakota and Mississippi. At the other extreme, states including Michigan, Ohio, District of Columbia and Nebraska had between 95% and 100% positive results, a rate that seems unrealistic even for the most outstanding institutions.


And if you’re thinking of creating a fake study you might want to get this book.

Related posts:

Why you might want to ignore everything I post on this blog

Why you might want to ignore everything I post on this blog, part 2

Why you might want to ignore everything I post on this blog, part 3

Things you didn’t know about lies, liars and detecting lies

A few more things pop psychology has been wrong about:

Does getting it wrong help you get it right?

When should we trust someone’s reputation and when should we ignore it?:

What leads us to trust people?

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