Questionable research practices among Italian research psychologists

Franca Agnoli*, J.M. Wicherts, C.L.S. Veldkamp, Paolo Albiero, Roberto Cubelli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

A survey in the United States revealed that an alarmingly large percentage of university psychologists admitted having used questionable research practices that can contaminate the research literature with false positive and biased findings. We conducted a replication of this study among Italian research psychologists to investigate whether these findings generalize to other countries. All the original materials were translated into Italian, and members of the Italian Association of Psychology were invited to participate via an online survey. The percentages of Italian psychologists who admitted to having used ten questionable research practices were similar to the results obtained in the United States although there were small but significant differences in self-admission rates for some QRPs. Nearly all researchers (88%) admitted using at least one of the practices, and researchers generally considered a practice possibly defensible if they admitted using it, but Italian researchers were much less likely than US researchers to consider a practice defensible. Participants' estimates of the percentage of researchers who have used these practices were greater than the self-admission rates, and participants estimated that researchers would be unlikely to admit it. In written responses, participants argued that some of these practices are not questionable and they have used some practices because reviewers and journals demand it. The similarity of results obtained in the United States, this study, and a related study conducted in Germany suggest that adoption of these practices is an international phenomenon and is likely due to systemic features of the international research and publication processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0172792
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • OVERESTIMATE EFFECT SIZES
  • SPECIAL SECTION
  • SOFTER RESEARCH
  • P-VALUES
  • SCIENTISTS
  • SCIENCE
  • US
  • RECOMMENDATIONS
  • REPLICABILITY
  • POWER

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