Surprise, scientists make errors especially when it’s their bread and butter. The real question is if they are errors?
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A new study has found some scientists are unknowingly tweaking experiments and analysis methods to increase their chances of getting results that are easily published.
P-hacking happens when researchers either consciously or unconsciously analyse their data multiple times or in multiple ways until they get a desired result. If p-hacking is common, the exaggerated results could lead to misleading conclusions, even when evidence comes from multiple studies.
“We found evidence that p-hacking is happening throughout the life sciences,” said lead author Dr Megan Head from the ANU Research School of Biology.
The study used text mining to extract p-values – a number that indicates how likely it is that a result occurs by chance – from more than 100,000 research papers published around the world, spanning many scientific disciplines, including medicine, biology and psychology.