Most Research Findings are False?


John Ioannidis at PLoS Medicine writes:

There is increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims. However, this should not be surprising. It can be proven that most claimed research findings are false.

Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution presents the basic idea in a simple-to-understand diagram. But does this conclusion apply to social research or urban planning research as well? There also has been talk of bringing out the ‘dark research’ out of the closet i.e. research studies that have yielded results contradictory to the researchers’ expectations and hence aren’t published. One of their suggestions regarding journal policy that I agree with is – As an editor or referee, don’t reject papers that fail to reject the null.