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Evaluating solutions to the problem of false positives

Evaluating solutions to the problem of false positives
Evaluating solutions to the problem of false positives
A current challenge for the scientific community is the choice of appropriate policies to reduce the rate of false positives. Existing proposals differ in whether to prioritize tackling omission through transparency requirements, punishing more severe transgressions, or possibly both. We use a formal model to evaluate these possible solutions. We find that a policy that prohibitively increases the cost of ‘misdemeanor’ types of questionable research practices robustly decreases the overall rate of researcher misconduct, because the rate of ‘felonies’, such as fabrication, also decreases. Therefore proposals that aim to prevent lying by omission by enforcing reporting guidelines are likely to be effective in reducing researcher misconduct, but measures such as government audits (purported to counteract pure fraud) can backfire. Moreover, we find that an increase in the rewards of publication need not increase overall misconduct.
0048-7333
Gall, Thomas
8df67f3d-fe3c-4a3f-8ce7-e2090557fcd4
Maniadis, Zacharias
70ffa309-94c9-487c-982f-778294ea2a13
Gall, Thomas
8df67f3d-fe3c-4a3f-8ce7-e2090557fcd4
Maniadis, Zacharias
70ffa309-94c9-487c-982f-778294ea2a13

Gall, Thomas and Maniadis, Zacharias (2018) Evaluating solutions to the problem of false positives Research Policy (doi:10.1016/j.respol.2017.12.005).

Record type: Article

Abstract

A current challenge for the scientific community is the choice of appropriate policies to reduce the rate of false positives. Existing proposals differ in whether to prioritize tackling omission through transparency requirements, punishing more severe transgressions, or possibly both. We use a formal model to evaluate these possible solutions. We find that a policy that prohibitively increases the cost of ‘misdemeanor’ types of questionable research practices robustly decreases the overall rate of researcher misconduct, because the rate of ‘felonies’, such as fabrication, also decreases. Therefore proposals that aim to prevent lying by omission by enforcing reporting guidelines are likely to be effective in reducing researcher misconduct, but measures such as government audits (purported to counteract pure fraud) can backfire. Moreover, we find that an increase in the rewards of publication need not increase overall misconduct.

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Accepted/In Press date: 19 December 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 2 January 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 417469
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/417469
ISSN: 0048-7333
PURE UUID: 27920eec-a74f-4dbe-9314-a851b0aa3913

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Date deposited: 31 Jan 2018 17:30
Last modified: 31 Jan 2018 17:30

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Author: Thomas Gall

University divisions

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