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New academic journal only publishes 'unsurprising' research rejected by others | CBC Radio

the University of Canterbury
California State University
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Carol Off
Nick Huntington-Klein
Andrew Gill
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The Series of Unsurprising Results in Economics

Positivity     39.00%   
   Negativity   61.00%
The New York Times
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TranscriptThere's a method to Andrea Menclova's mundane madness.Menclova is an associate professor at the University of Canterbury and the editor of a new journal called The Series of Unsurprising Results in Economics [SURE].The mission is simple: only publish research with findings that are boring.As It Happens host Carol Off spoke to Menclova about the journal and why she hopes it will address a bias in academic research publications.Here is part of their conversation.Andrea, why on Earth would you want to put out a journal full of dull research?Well, I think science has a problem and it's a problem with publication bias.We believe that a lot of the other journals are biased in the other direction — towards publishing attractive, catchy, strong, statistically significant results.We kind of want to fill the void and publish results that are the opposite of that —unsurprising, weaker, statistically insignificant, not conclusive and so on.The boring research that you would have in your publication — these are results that didn't prove anything sensational, nothing sexy, nothing unusual. Why is it so difficult to get that published?Our careers can depend quite crucially on publishing papers and publishing them in good journals.And so, oftentimes, after finding a research question, reading up on other people's work, thinking about methods carefully, getting data, cleaning, and so on — months into the project, people finally get results which are outside of their control or should be outside of their control.And whoops! So if you then had a policy maker who wanted to implement an intervention and wanted to have evidence-based policy, they might be finding a lot of studies that say the results are really powerful — you know, do this.Yet for every such published study there might be another study that didn't get published and it just found no results.Can you give examples — what would you publish as an unsurprising results in your journal?A good example is the inaugural publication, I think, that we had last week.This is from Nick Huntington-Klein and Andrew Gill from California State University Fullerton.They looked at the issue of U.S. college students not finishing their degree, not graduating within four years, taking longer than that.

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