Assignment: Questionable Research Practices

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Assignment: Questionable Research Practices

Assignment: Questionable Research Practices


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Part 1: Questionable Research Practices (QRPs)


a. To learn what Questionable Research Practices are and how they differ from more flagrant forms of unethical research behavior:

1. Read the Association for Psychological Science’s (2012) article, “Questionable Research Practices Surprisingly Common.”

2. Read Butler, Delaney, and Spoelstra’s (2016) article, “The Grey Zone: How Questionable Research Practices Are Blurring the Boundary Between Science and Misconduct.”

▪ Note that Butler et al.’s popular press article is about Questionable Research Practices in the discipline of business, not psychology.

▪ Also note that Butler et al.’s popular press article links to their scientific article; however, their scientific article is behind a paywall.

3. Read Schimmack’s (2015) article, “Questionable Research Practices: Definition, Detection, and Recommendations for Better Practices.”

4. Note that Schimmack’s (2015) article lists (and defines) seven Questionable Research Practices, and Butler et al.’s (2016) article adds another one (HARKing).

b. Make sure you understand the Questionable Research Practices that are described in the articles you’ve read for this Assignment. If you don’t understand one or more of the Questionable Research Practices, it might help to Google them to better understand them.

c. Now, you’ll read an empirical article that used a questionnaire to measure how often psychological scientists engage in various Questionable Research Practices.

1. Read John, Loewenstein, and Prelec’s (2012) article, “Measuring the Prevalence of Questionable Research Practices with Incentives for Truth Telling.” This a is journal article and may take a little longer to get through then some of the others you’ve been reading.


Write one paragraph, synthesizing the results of the John et al., (2012) article. You needn’t write about all of the results. Focus in on one or two aspects of the paper and write about that. Post this to the “Assignment #6b, John et al summary” forum on the discussion board.

Part 1: Questionable Research Practices

2. The paragraph should have a Topic Sentence, three or four Supporting Sentences, and a Conclusion Sentence.

3. Write about the behavior and phenomena that is the topic of the paper. 4. Remember to include in-text (parenthetical) citations. 5. Make sure to include a citation of John et al. (2012) in the paragraph as

well as any other papers that you reference

Part 2: Applying what you’ve learned


a. Listen to Act One of NPR’s This American Life’s (August 16, 2013) episode, “Money for Nothing and Your Cows for Free.” (A transcript of this radio episode is available here.)

1. To play the episode, click on the rightward-facing ‘play’ triangle underneath the picture of the person on the motor-scooter.

2. Listen until the 36:30 mark (when host Ira Glass says “Their blog and twice-weekly podcast about economics, but for the rest of us …”).

3. Note that GiveDirectly has conducted a randomized controlled trial to investigate the benefits of their charity, whereas Heifer International insists that they don’t need to conduct a randomized controlled trial to learn the benefits of their charity (and they seem to imply that conducting a randomized controlled trial might not be ethical).

4. Review what a randomized controlled trial is (and where it lies on the Hierarchy of Scientific Evidence).


Go to the discussion board and the “Assignment 6b, Heifer International” forum. Create a post where you provide two reasons why Heifer International conducting a randomized controlled trial could be unethical and two reasons why Heifer International not conducting a randomized controlled trial could be unethical.

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