Many Labs 5: Testing pre-data collection peer review as an intervention to increase replicability


Replications in psychological science sometimes fail to reproduce prior findings. If replications use methods that are unfaithful to the original study or ineffective in eliciting the phenomenon of interest, then a failure to replicate may be a failure of the protocol rather than a challenge to the original finding. Formal pre-data collection peer review by experts may address shortcomings and increase replicability rates. We selected 10 replications from the Reproducibility Project: Psychology (RP:P; Open Science Collaboration, 2015) in which the original authors had expressed concerns about the replication designs before data collection and only one of which was “statistically significant” (p < .05). Commenters suggested that lack of adherence to expert review and low-powered tests were the reasons that most of these RP:P studies failed to replicate (Gilbert et al., 2016). We revised the replication protocols and received formal peer review prior to conducting new replications. We administered the RP:P and Revised protocols in multiple laboratories (Median number of laboratories per original study = 6.5; Range 3 to 9; Median total sample = 1279.5; Range 276 to 3512) for high-powered tests of each original finding with both protocols. Overall, Revised protocols produced similar effect sizes as RP:P protocols following the preregistered analysis plan (Δr = .002 or .014, depending on analytic approach). The median effect size for Revised protocols (r = .05) was similar to RP:P protocols (r = .04) and the original RP:P replications (r = .11), and smaller than the original studies (r = .37). The cumulative evidence of original study and three replication attempts suggests that effect sizes for all 10 (median r = .07; range .00 to .15) are 78% smaller on average than original findings (median r = .37; range .19 to .50), with very precisely estimated effects.

Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science