Many researchers rely on meta-analysis to summarize research evidence. However, there is a concern that publication bias and selective reporting may lead to biased meta-analytic effect sizes. We compare the results of meta-analyses to large-scale preregistered replications in psychology carried out at multiple laboratories. The multiple-laboratory replications provide precisely estimated effect sizes that do not suffer from publication bias or selective reporting. We searched the literature and identified 15 meta-analyses on the same topics as multiple-laboratory replications. We find that meta-analytic effect sizes are significantly different from replication effect sizes for 12 out of the 15 meta-replication pairs. These differences are systematic and, on average, meta-analytic effect sizes are almost three times as large as replication effect sizes. We also implement three methods of correcting meta-analysis for bias, but these methods do not substantively improve the meta-analytic results.
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The data used in this paper are posted at the project’s OSF repository (link: https://osf.io/vw3p6).
The analysis code for all analyses are available at the project’s OSF repository (link: https://osf.io/vw3p6).
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For financial support we thank J. Wallander and the Tom Hedelius Foundation (grant no. P2015-0001:1), the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (grant no. NHS14-1719:1) and the Meltzer Fund in Bergen. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Kvarven, A., Strømland, E. & Johannesson, M. Comparing meta-analyses and preregistered multiple-laboratory replication projects. Nat Hum Behav (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-019-0787-z