In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Publication Bias in Psychology

  • Introduction
  • Overviews
  • Selectivity of Publications
  • Defining Publication Bias
  • Reporting Bias
  • Publication Bias Everywhere
  • Evaluating Solutions

Psychology Publication Bias in Psychology
Anton Kühberger
  • LAST REVIEWED: 21 February 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 February 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0307


Science is communicative, based on the publication of scientific papers. It is the scientists’ main task to disseminate their findings as far as possible. However, not every piece of scientific work will be published. Rather, many attempts at publication fail. They fail on different reasons: lack of substance, lack of methodological rigor, and lack of statistical significance. Research that has fatal methodological flaws, often identified in peer review, of course should not be published. With selective publication due to statistical reasons, often called reporting bias, the case is different. This is especially true for publication bias, a specific variety of reporting bias. Publication bias means failure to publish a scientific finding because the result falls short of the traditional significance value of p <.05. The current article begins with an overview of selectivity in publication processes. Then it discusses the nature and size of publication bias, in terms of prevalence, detection, and correction. It closes with an evaluation of corrective and prevention attempts.


To best digest the voluminous literature on publication bias, the edited volume Rothstein, et al. 2006 (cited under Defining Publication Bias) provides a helpful read. Insightful overviews were written by Brown, et al. 2017 (cited under Defining Publication Bias); Ferguson and Brannick 2012 (cited under Inflated Effect Sizes and Heterogeneity); Ioannidis, et al. 2014; Nelson, et al. 2018 (cited under Changing the Publication Process); Page, et al. 2021 (cited under Defining Publication Bias); and Song, et al. 2010 (citation under Reporting Bias).

  • Ioannidis, J. P. A., M. R. Munafo, P. Fusar-Poli, B. A. Nosek, and S. P. David 2014. Publication and other reporting biases in cognitive sciences: Detection, prevalence, and prevention. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 18.5: 235–241.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2014.02.010

    Summarizes the different forms of reporting biases (not only publication bias), and informs about methods to detect and correct them.

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