New research finds replication studies are often unwelcome in psychology journals

Only a small minority of psychology journals encourage the submission of replication studies, according to new research.

The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, provides one reason why replications may not be performed or published enough.

“Science progresses through replication and contradiction. The former builds the body of evidence, the latter determines whether such a body exists,” said Professor Neil Martin, of Regent’s University London, the lead author on the study.

“We wanted to investigate whether journals specifically rejected (or did not recommend) the submission of replications. We did this by examining the aims and instructions to authors of 1,151 journals in psychology,” he added.

Of the psychology journals examined, only about 3 percent (33 in total) specifically stated that replications would be accepted.

Most journals (63 percent) did not state they accepted replications but did not discourage replications either. But 33 percent implicitly discouraged replication studies, with language such as: “Studies whose sole purpose is to replicate well-established developmental phenomena in different countries or (sub) cultures are not typically published in the International Journal of Behavioral Development.”

Twelve journals explicitly did not accept replications for publication.

In 2015, researchers attempted to reproduce 100 previously published psychological studies, but only 36 percent reached statistical significance after being conducted again. But Martin and his colleagues said there is a way for psychology to put its house in order.

“We’ve suggested that all journals in psychology should state that they accept replications that are positive and negative,” Martin said. “Researchers could also submit two papers for publication when they submit original research: one which reports the original results and one replication which acts as a test of the original findings.”