Is Most Published Research Really False?

Annual Review of Statistics and Its Application

Vol. 4:109-122 (Volume publication date March 2017)
First published online as a Review in Advance on October 5, 2016


There has been an increasing concern in both the scientific and lay communities that most published medical findings are false. But what does it mean to be false? Here we describe the range of definitions of false discoveries in the scientific literature. We summarize the philosophical, statistical, and experimental evidence for each type of false discovery. We discuss common underpinning problems with the scientific and data analytic practices and point to tools and behaviors that can be implemented to reduce the problems with published scientific results.