Underpowered studies and publication bias can generate unlucky winners that try to replicate a false positive finding in subsequent research

Date created: 2022-09-13

When research is done with low power and there is publication bias at play, the downstream effects can be quite severe. Whoever gets the positive finding thinks it’s a true signal, but in realy there’s a hidden literature of unpublished negative findings. They will then chase smoke.

The result? A decade’s worth of work that generated a literature of false positives, and a secondary literature aiming to work out the mechanisms underlying signals that were not real in the first place.