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      Successful failure: good for the self and science

      1 , 2

      Journal of Advanced Nursing

      Wiley

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          False-positive psychology: undisclosed flexibility in data collection and analysis allows presenting anything as significant.

          In this article, we accomplish two things. First, we show that despite empirical psychologists' nominal endorsement of a low rate of false-positive findings (≤ .05), flexibility in data collection, analysis, and reporting dramatically increases actual false-positive rates. In many cases, a researcher is more likely to falsely find evidence that an effect exists than to correctly find evidence that it does not. We present computer simulations and a pair of actual experiments that demonstrate how unacceptably easy it is to accumulate (and report) statistically significant evidence for a false hypothesis. Second, we suggest a simple, low-cost, and straightforwardly effective disclosure-based solution to this problem. The solution involves six concrete requirements for authors and four guidelines for reviewers, all of which impose a minimal burden on the publication process.
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            Reporting and interpretation of randomized controlled trials with statistically nonsignificant results for primary outcomes.

            Previous studies indicate that the interpretation of trial results can be distorted by authors of published reports. To identify the nature and frequency of distorted presentation or "spin" (ie, specific reporting strategies, whatever their motive, to highlight that the experimental treatment is beneficial, despite a statistically nonsignificant difference for the primary outcome, or to distract the reader from statistically nonsignificant results) in published reports of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with statistically nonsignificant results for primary outcomes. March 2007 search of MEDLINE via PubMed using the Cochrane Highly Sensitive Search Strategy to identify reports of RCTs published in December 2006. Articles were included if they were parallel-group RCTs with a clearly identified primary outcome showing statistically nonsignificant results (ie, P > or = .05). Two readers appraised each selected article using a pretested, standardized data abstraction form developed in a pilot test. From the 616 published reports of RCTs examined, 72 were eligible and appraised. The title was reported with spin in 13 articles (18.0%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 10.0%-28.9%). Spin was identified in the Results and Conclusions sections of the abstracts of 27 (37.5%; 95% CI, 26.4%-49.7%) and 42 (58.3%; 95% CI, 46.1%-69.8%) reports, respectively, with the conclusions of 17 (23.6%; 95% CI, 14.4%-35.1%) focusing only on treatment effectiveness. Spin was identified in the main-text Results, Discussion, and Conclusions sections of 21 (29.2%; 95% CI, 19.0%-41.1%), 31 (43.1%; 95% CI, 31.4%-55.3%), and 36 (50.0%; 95% CI, 38.0%-62.0%) reports, respectively. More than 40% of the reports had spin in at least 2 of these sections in the main text. In this representative sample of RCTs published in 2006 with statistically nonsignificant primary outcomes, the reporting and interpretation of findings was frequently inconsistent with the results.
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              Beyond Gender Schemas: Improving the Advancement of Women in Academia

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of Advanced Nursing
                J Adv Nurs
                Wiley
                03092402
                October 2013
                October 2013
                September 13 2013
                : 69
                : 10
                : 2145-2147
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Faculty of Nursing; University of Alberta; Edmonton; Alberta; Canada
                [2 ]Faculty of Health Sciences; Australian Catholic University; Melbourne; Victoria; Australia
                Article
                10.1111/jan.12125
                © 2013

                http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/tdm_license_1.1

                Product
                Self URI (article page): http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/jan.12125

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