Peer-Reviews from Psychological Methods

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Jerry Brunner and I wrote a paper that examined the validity of z-curve, the method underlying powergraphs, to Psychological Methods.

As soon as we submitted it, we made the manuscript and the code available. Nobody used the opportunity to comment on the manuscript. Now we got the official reviews.

We would like to thank the editor and reviewers for spending time and effort on reading (or at least skimming) our manuscript and writing comments.  Normally, this effort would be largely wasted because like many other authors we are going to ignore most of their well-meaning comments and suggestions and try to publish the manuscript mostly unchanged somewhere else. As the editor pointed out, we are hopeful that our manuscript will eventually be published because 95% of written manuscripts get eventually published. So, why change anything.  However, we think the work of the editor and reviewers deserves some recognition and some readers of our manuscript may find them valuable. Therefore, we are happy to share their comments for readers interested in replicabilty and our method of estimating replicability from test statistics in original articles. 


Dear Dr. Brunner,

I have now received the reviewers’ comments on your manuscript. Based on their analysis and my own evaluation, I can no longer consider this manuscript for publication in Psychological Methods. There are two main reasons that I decided not to accept your submission. The first deals with the value of your statistical estimate of replicability. My first concern is that you define replicability specifically within the context of NHST by focusing on power and p-values. I personally have fewer problems with NHST than many methodologists, but given the fact that the literature is slowly moving away from this paradigm, I don’t think it is wise to promote a method to handle replicability that is unusable for studies that are conducted outside of it. Instead of talking about replicability as estimating the probability of getting a significant result, I think it would be better to define it in more continuous terms, focusing on how similar we can expect future estimates (in terms of effect sizes) to be to those that have been demonstrated in the prior literature. I’m not sure that I see the value of statistics that specifically incorporate the prior sample sizes into their estimates, since, as you say, these have typically been inappropriately low.

Sure, it may tell you the likelihood of getting significant results if you conducted a replication of the average study that has been done in the past. But why would you do that instead of conducting a replication that was more appropriately powered?

Reviewer 2 argues against the focus on original study/replication study distinction, which would be consistent with the idea of estimating the underlying distribution of effects, and from there selecting sample sizes that would produce studies of acceptable power. Reviewer 3 indicates that three of the statistics you discussed are specifically designed for single studies, and are no longer valid when applied to sets of studies, although this reviewer does provide information about how these can be corrected.

The second main reason, discussed by Reviewer 1, is that although your statistics may allow you to account for selection biases introduced by journals not accepting null results, they do not allow you to account for selection effects prior to submission. Although methodologists will often bring up the file drawer problem, it is much less of an issue than people believe. I read about a survey in a meta-analysis text (I unfortunately can’t remember the exact citation) that indicated that over 95% of the studies that get written up eventually get published somewhere. The journal publication bias against non-significant results is really more an issue of where articles get published, rather than if they get published. The real issue is that researchers will typically choose not to write up results that are non-significant, or will suppress non-significant findings when writing up a study with other significant findings. The latter case is even more complicated, because it is often not just a case of including or excluding significant results, but is instead a case where researchers examine the significant findings they have and then choose a narrative that makes best use of them, including non-significant findings when they are part of the story but excluding them when they are irrelevant. The presence of these author-side effects means that your statistic will almost always be overestimating the actual replicability of a literature.

The reviewers bring up a number of additional points that you should consider. Reviewer 1 notes that your discussion of the power of psychological studies is 25 years old, and therefore likely doesn’t apply. Reviewer 2 felt that your choice to represent your formulas and equations using programming code was a mistake, and suggests that you stick to standard mathematical notation when discussing equations. Reviewer 2 also felt that you characterized researcher behaviors in ways that were more negative than is appropriate or realistic, and that you should tone down your criticisms of these behaviors. As a grant-funded researcher, I can personally promise you that a great many researchers are concerned about power,since you cannot receive government funding without presenting detailed power analyses. Reviewer 2 noted a concern with the use of web links in your code, in that this could be used to identify individuals using your syntax. Although I have no suspicions that you are using this to keep track of who is reviewing your paper, you should remove those links to ensure privacy. Reviewer 1 felt that a number of your tables were not necessary, and both reviewers 2 and 3 felt that there were parts of your writing that could be notably condensed. You might consider going through the document to see if you can shorten it while maintaining your general points. Finally, reviewer 3 provides a great many specific comments that I feel would greatly enhance the validity and interpretability of your results. I would suggest that you attend closely to those suggestions before submitting to another journal.

For your guidance, I append the reviewers’ comments below and hope they will be useful to you as you prepare this work for another outlet.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your submission.

Sincerely, Jamie DeCoster, PhD
Associate Editor
Psychological Methods


Reviewers’ comments:

Reviewer #1:

The goals of this paper are admirable and are stated clearly here: “it is desirable to have an alternative method of estimating replicability that does not require literal replication. We see this method as complementary to actual replication studies.”

However, I am bothered by an assumption of this paper, which is that each study has a power (for example, see the first two paragraphs on page 20). This bothers me for several reasons. First, any given study in psychology will often report many different p-values. Second, there is the issue of p-hacking or forking paths. The p-value, and thus the power, will depend on the researcher’s flexibility in analysis. With enough researcher degrees of freedom, power approaches 100% no matter how small the effect size is. Power in a preregistered replication is a different story. The authors write, “Selection for significance (publication bias) does not change the power values of individual studies.” But to the extent that there is selection done _within_ a study–and this is definitely happening–I don’t think that quoted sentence is correct.

So I can’t really understand the paper as it is currently written, as it’s not clear to me what they are estimating, and I am concerned that they are not accounting for the p-hacking that is standard practice in published studies.

Other comments:

The authors write, “Replication studies ensure that false positives will be promptly discovered when replication studies fail to confirm the original results.” I don’t think “ensure” is quite right, since any replication is itself random. Even if the null is true, there is a 5% chance that a replication will confirm just by chance. Also many studies have multiple outcomes, and if any appears to be confirmed, this can be taken as a success. Also, replications will not just catch false positives, they will also catch cases where the null hypothesis is false but where power is low. Replication may have the _goal_ of catching false positives, but it is not so discriminating.

The Fisher quote, “A properly designed experiment rarely fails to give …significance,” seems very strange to me. What if an experiment is perfectly designed, but the null hypothesis happens to be true? Then it should have a 95% chance of _not_ giving significance.

The authors write, “Actual replication studies are needed because they provide more information than just finding a significant result again. For example, they show that the results can be replicated over time and are not limited to a specific historic, cultural context. They also show that the description of the original study was sufficiently precise to reproduce the study in a way that it successfully replicated the original result.” These statements seem too strong to me. Successful replication is rejection of the null, and this can happen even if the original study was not described precisely, etc.

The authors write, “A common estimate of power is that average power is about 50% (Cohen 1962, Sedlmeier and Gigerenzer 1989). This means that about half of the studies in psychology have less than 50% power.” I think they are confusing the mean with the median here. Also I would guess that 50% power is an overestimate. For one thing, psychology has changed a lot since 1962 or even 1989 so I see no reason to take this 50% guess seriously.

The authors write, “We define replicability as the probability of obtaining the same result in an exact replication study with the same procedure and sample sizes.” I think that by “exact” they mean “pre-registered” but this is not clear. For example, suppose the original study was p-hacked. Then, strictly speaking, an exact replication would also be p-hacked. But I don’t think that’s what the authors mean. Also, it might be necessary to restrict the definition to pre-registered studies with a single test. Otherwise there is the problem that a paper has several tests, and any rejection will be taken as a successful replication.

I recommend that the authors get rid of tables 2-15 and instead think more carefully about what information they would like to convey to the reader here.

Reviewer #2:

This paper is largely unclear, and in the areas where it is clear enough to decipher, it is unwise and unprofessional.

This study’s main claim seems to be: “Thus, statistical estimates of replicability and the outcome of replication studies can be seen as two independent methods that are expected to produce convergent evidence of replicability.” This is incorrect. The approaches are unrelated. Replication of a scientific study is part of the scientific process, trying to find out the truth. The new study is not the judge of the original article, its replicability, or scientific contribution. It is merely another contribution to the scientific literature. The replicator and the original article are equals; one does not have status above the other. And certainly a statistical method applied to the original article has no special status unless the method, data, or theory can be shown to be an improvement on the original article.

They write, “Rather than using traditional notation from Statistics that might make it difficult for non-statisticians to understand our method, we use computer syntax as notation.” This is a disqualifying stance for publication in a serious scholarly journal, and it would an embarrassment to any journal or author to publish these results. The point of statistical notation is clarity, generality, and cross-discipline understanding. Computer syntax is specific to the language adopted, is not general, and is completely opaque to anyone who uses a different computer language. Yet everyone who understands their methods will have at least seen, and needs to understand, statistical notation. Statistical (i.e., mathematical) notation is the one general language we have that spans the field and different fields. No computer syntax does this. Proofs and other evidence are expressed in statistical notation, not computer syntax in the (now largely unused) S statistical language. Computer syntax, as used in this paper, is also ill-defined in that any quantity defined by a primitive function of the language can change any time, even after publication, if someone changes the function. In fact, the S language, used in this paper, is not equivalent to R, and so the authors are incorrect that R will be more understandable. Not including statistical notation, when the language of the paper is so unclear and self-contradictory, is an especially unfortunate decision. (As it happens I know S and R, but I find the manuscript very difficult to understand without imputing my own views about what the authors are doing. This is unacceptable. It is not even replicable.) If the authors have claims to make, they need to state them in unambiguous mathematical or statistical language and then prove their claims. They do not do any of these things.

It is untrue that “researchers ignore power”. If they do, they will rarely find anything of interest. And they certainly write about it extensively. In my experience, they obsess over power, balancing whether they will find something with the cost of doing the experiment. In fact, this paper misunderstands and misrepresents the concept: Power is not “the long-run probability of obtaining a statistically significant result.” It is the probability that a statistical test will reject a false null hypothesis, as the authors even say explicitly at times. These are very different quantities.

This paper accuses “researchers” of many other misunderstandings. Most of these are theoretically incorrect or empirically incorrect.One point of the paper seems to be “In short, our goal is to estimate average power of a set of studies with unknown population effect sizes that can assume any value, including zero.” But I don’t see why we need to know this quantity or how the authors’ methods contribute to us knowing it. The authors make many statistical claims without statistical proofs, without any clear definition of what their claims are, and without empirical evidence. They use simulation that inquires about a vanishingly small portion of the sample space to substitute for an infinite domain of continuous parameter values; they need mathematical proofs but do not even state their claims in clear ways that are amenable to proof.

No coherent definition is given of the quantity of interest. “Effect size” is not generic and hypothesis tests are not invariant to the definition, even if it is true that they are monotone transformations of each other. One effect size can be “significant” and a transformation of the effect size can be “not significant” even if calculated from the same data. This alone invalidates the authors’ central claims.

The first 11.5 pages of this paper should be summarized in one paragraph. The rest does not seem to contribute anything novel. Much of it is incorrect as well. Better to delete throat clearing and get on with the point of the paper.

I’d also like to point out that the authors have hard-coded URL links to their own web site in the replication code. The code cannot be run without making a call to the author’s web site, and recording the reviewer’s IP address in the authors’ web logs. Because this enables the authors to track who is reviewing the manuscript, it is highly inappropriate. It also makes it impossible to replicate the authors results. Many journals (and all federal grants) have prohibitions on this behavior.

I haven’t checked whether Psychological Methods has this rule, but the authors should know better regardless.

Reviewer 3

Review of “How replicable is psychology? A comparison of four methods of estimating replicability on the bias of test statistics in original studies”

It was my pleasure to review this manuscript. The authors compare four methods of estimating replicability. One undeniable strength of the general approach is that these measures of replicability can be computed before or without actually replicating the study/studies. As such, one can see the replicability measure of a set of statistically significant findings as an index of trust in these findings, in the sense that the measure provides an estimate of the percentage of these studies that is expected to be statistically significant when replicating them under the same conditions and same sample size (assuming the replication study and the original study assess the same true effect). As such, I see value in this approach. However, I have many comments, major and minor, which will enable the authors to improve their manuscript.

Major comments

1. Properties of index.

What I miss, and what would certainly be appreciated by the reader, is a description of properties of the replicability index. This would include that it has a minimum value equal to 0.05 (or more generally, alpha), when the set of statistically significant studies has no evidential value. Its maximum value equals 1, when the power of studies included in the set was very large. A value of .8 corresponds to the situation where statistical power of the original situation was .8, as often recommended. Finally, I would add that both sample size and true effect size affect the replicability index; a high value of say .8 can be obtained when true effect size is small in combination with a large sample size (you can consider giving a value of N, here), or with a large true effect size in combination with a small sample size (again, consider giving values).

Consider giving a story like this early, e.g. bottom of page 6.

2. Too long explanations/text

Perhaps it is a matter of taste, but sometimes I consider explanations much too long. Readers of Psychological Methods may be expected to know some basics. To give you an example, the text on page 7 in “Introduction of Statistical Methods for Power estimation” is very long. I believe its four paragraphs can be summarized into just one; particularly the first one can be summarized in one or two sentences. Similarly, the section on “Statistical Power” can be shortened considerably, imo. Other specific suggestions for shortening the text, I mention below in the “minor comments” section. Later on I’ll provide one major comment on the tables, and how to remove a few of them and how to combine several of them.

3. Wrong application of ML, p-curve, p-uniform

This is THE main comment, imo. The problem is that ML (Hedges, 1984), p-curve, p-uniform, enable the estimation of effect size based on just ONE study. Moreover,  Simonsohn (p-curve) as well as the authors of p-uniform would argue against estimating the average effect size of unrelated studies. These methods are meant to meta-analyze studies on ONE topic.

4. P-uniform and p-curve section, and ML section

This section needs a major revision. First, I would start the section with describing the logic of the method. Only statistically significant results are selected. Conditional on statistical significance, the methods are based on conditional p-values (not just p-values), and then I would provide the formula on top of page 18. Most importantly, these techniques are not constructed for estimating effect size of a bunch of unrelated studies. The methods should be applied to related studies. In your case, to each study individually. See my comments earlier.

Ln(p), which you use in your paper, is not a good idea here for two reasons: (1) It is most sensitive to heterogeneity (which is also put forward by Van Assen et al (2014), and (2) applied to single studies it estimates effect size such that the conditional p-value equals 1/e, rather than .5  (resulting in less nice properties).

The ML method, as it was described, focuses on estimating effect size using one single study (see Hedges, 1984). So I was very surprised to see it applied differently by the authors. Applying ML in the context of this paper should be the same as p-uniform and p-curve, using exactly the same conditional probability principle. So, the only difference between the three methods is the method of optimization. That is the only difference.

You develop a set-based ML approach, which needs to assume a distribution of true effect size. As said before, I leave it up to you whether you still want to include this method. For now, I have a slight preference to include the set-based approach because it (i) provides a nice reference to your set-based approach, called z-curve, and (ii) using this comparison you can “test” how robust the set-based ML approach is against a violation of the assumption of the distribution of true effect size.

Moreover, I strongly recommend showing how their estimates differ for certain studies, and include this in a table. This allows you to explain the logic of the methods very well. Here a suggestion. I would provide the estimates of four methods (…) for p-values .04, .025, .01, .001, and perhaps .0001). This will be extremely insightful. For small p-values, the three methods’ estimates will be similar to the traditional estimate. For p-values > .025, the estimate will be negative, for p = .025 the estimate will be (close to) 0. Then, you can also use these same studies and p-values to calculate the power of a replication study (R-index).

I would exclude Figure 1, and the corresponding text. Is not (no longer) necessary.

For the set-based ML approach, if you still include it, please explain how you get to the true value distribution (g(theta)).

5a. The MA set, and test statistics

Many different effect sizes and test statistics exist. Many of them can be transformed to ONE underlying parameter, with a sensible interpretation and certain statistical properties. For instance, the chi2, t, and F(1,df) can all be transformed to d or r, and their SE can be derived. In the RPP project and by John et al (2016) this is called the MA set. Other test statistics, such as F(>1, df) cannot be converted to the same metric, and no SE is defined on that metric. Therefore, the statistics F(>1,df) were excluded from the meta-analyses in the RPP  (see the supplementary materials of the RPP) and by Johnson et al (2016) and also Morey and Lakens (2016), who also re-analyzed the data of the RPP.

Fortunately, in your application you do not estimate effect size but only estimate power of a test, which only requires estimating the ncp and not effect size. So, in principle you can include the F(>1,df) statistics in your analyses, which is a definite advantage. Although I can see you can incorporate it for the ML, p-curve, p-uniform approach, I do not directly see how these F(>1,df) statistics can be used for the two set-based methods (ML and z-curve); in the set-based methods, you put all statistics on one dimension (z) using the p-values. How do you defend this?

5b. Z-curve

Some details are not clear to me, yet. How many components (called r in your text) are selected, and why? Your text states: “First, select a ncp parameter m ; . Then generate Z from a normal distribution with mean m ; I do not understand, since the normal distribution does not have an ncp. Is it that you nonparametrically model the distribution of observed Z, with different components?

Why do you use kernel density estimation? What is it’s added value? Why making it more imprecise by having this step in between? Please explain.

Except for these details, procedure and logic of z-curve are clear

6. Simulations (I): test statistics

I have no reasons, theoretical or empirical, why the analyses would provide different results for Z, t, F(1,df), F(>1,df), chi2. Therefore, I would omit all simulation results of all statistics except 1, and not talk about results of these other statistics. For instance, in the simulations section I would state that results are provided on each of these statistics but present here only the results of t, and of others in supplementary info. When applying the methods to RPP, you apply them to all statistics simultaneously, which you could mention in the text (see also comment 4 above).

7. mean or median power (important)

One of my most important points is the assessment of replicability itself. Consider a set of studies for which replicability is calculated, for each study. So, in case of M studies, there are M replicability indices. Which statistics would be most interesting to report, i.e., are most informative? Note that the distribution of power is far some symmetrical, and actually may be bimodal with modes at 0.05 and 1.  For that reason alone, I would include in any report of replicability in a field the proportion of R-indices equal to 0.05 (which amounts to the proportion of results with .025 < p < .05) and the proportion of R-indices equal to 1.00 (e.g., using two decimals, i.e. > .995). Moreover, because power values are recommend of .8 or more, I also could include the proportion of studies with power > .8.

We also would need a measure of central tendency. Because the distribution is not symmetric, and may be skewed, I recommend using the median rather than the mean. Another reason to use the median rather than the mean is because the mean does not provide useable information on whether methods are biased or not, in the simulations. For instance, if true effect size = 0, because of sampling error the observed power will exceed .05 in exactly 50% of the cases (this is the case for p-uniform; since with probability .5 the p-value will exceed .025) and larger than .05 in the other 50% of the cases. Hence, the median will be exactly equal to .05, whereas the mean will exceed .05. Similarly, if true effect size is large the mean power will be too small (distribution skewed to the left). To conclude, I strongly recommend including the median in the results of the simulation.

In a report, such as for the RPP later on in the paper, I recommend including (i)

p(R=.05), (ii) p(R >= .8), (iii) p(R>= .995), (iv) median(R), (v) sd(R), (vi)

distribution R, (vii) mean R. You could also distinguish this for soc psy and cog psy.

8. simulations (II): selection of conditions

I believe it is unnatural to select conditions based on “mean true power” because we are most familiar with effect size and their distribution, and sample sizes and their distribution. I recommend describing these distributions, and then the implied power distribution (surely the median value as well, not or not only the mean).

9.  Omitted because it could reveal identity of reviewer

10. Presentation of results

I have comments on what you present, on how you present the results. First, what you present. For the ML and p-methods, I recommend presenting the distribution of R in each of the conditions (at least for fixed true effect size and fixed N, where results can be derived exactly relatively easy). For the set-based methods, if you focus on average R (which I do not recommend, I recommend median R), then present the RMSE. The absolute median error is minimized when you use the median. So, average-RMSE is a couple, and median-absolute error is a couple.

Now the presentation of results. Results of p-curve/p-uniform/ML are independent of the number of tests, but set-based methods (your ML variant) and z-curve are not.

Here the results I recommend presenting:

Fixed effect size, heterogeneity sample size

**For single-study methods, the probability distribution of R (figure), including mean(R), median(R), p(R=.05), p(R>= .995), sd(R). You could use simulation for approximating this distribution. Figures look like those in Figure 3, to the right.

**Median power, mean/sd as a function of K

**Bias for ML/p-curve/p-uniform amounts to the difference between median of distribution and the actual median, or the difference between the average of the distribution and the actual average. Note that this is different from set-based methods.

**For set-based methods, a table is needed (because of its dependence on k).

Results can be combined in one table (i.e., 2-3, 5-6, etc)

Significance tests comparing methods

I would exclude Table 4, Table 7, Table 10, Table 13. These significance tests do not make much sense. One method is better than another, or not – significance should not be relevant (for a very large number of iterations, a true difference will show up). You could simply describe in the text which method works best.

Heterogeneity in both sample size and effect size

You could provide similar results as for fixed effect size (but not for chi2, or other statistics). I would also use the same values of k as for the fixed effect case. For the fixed effect case you used 15, 25, 50, 100, 250. I can imagine using as values of k for both conditions k = 10, 30, 100, 400, 2,000 (or something).

Including the k = 10 case is important, because set-based methods will have more problems there, and because one paper or a meta-analysis or one author may have published just one or few statistically significant effect sizes. Note, however, that k=2,000 is only realistic when evaluating a large field.

Simulation of complex heterogeneity

Same results as for fixed effect size and heterogeneity in both sample size and effect size. Good to include a condition where the assumption of set-based ML is violated. I do not yet see why a correlation between N and ES may affect the results. Could you explain? For instance, for the ML/p-curve/p-uniform methods, all true effect sizes in combination with N result in a distribution of R for different studies; how this distribution is arrived at, is not relevant, so I do not yet see the importance of this correlation. That is, this correlation should only affect the results through the distribution of R. More reasoning should be provided, here.

Simulation of full heterogeneity

I am ambivalent about this section. If test statistic should not matter, then what is the added value of this section? Other distributions of sample size may be incorporated in previous section “complex heterogeneity”;. Other distributions of true effect may also be incorporated in the previous section. Note that Johnson et al (2016) use the RPP data to estimate that 90% of effects in psychology estimate a true zero effect. You assume only 10%.

Conservative bootstrap

Why only presenting the results of z-curve? By changing the limits of the interval, the interpretation becomes a bit awkward; what kind of interval is it now? Most importantly, coverages of .9973 or .9958 are horrible (in my opinion, these coverages are just as bad as coverages of .20). I prefer results of 95% confidence intervals, and then show their coverages in the table. Your &lsquo;conservative&rsquo; CIs are hard to interpret. Note also that this is paper on statistical properties of the methods, and one property is how well the methods perform w.r.t. 95% CI.

By the way, examining 95% CI of the methods is very valuable.

11. RPP

In my opinion, this section should be expanded substantially. This is where you can finally test your methodology, using real data! What I would add is the following: **Provide the distribution of R (including all statistics mentioned previously, i.e. p(R=0.05), p(R >= .8), p(R >= .995), median(R), mean(R), sd(R), using single-study methods **Provide previously mentioned results for soc psy and cog psy separately **Provide results of z-curve, and show your kernel density curve (strange that you never show this curve, if it is important in your algorithm).  What would be really great, is if you predict the probability of replication success (power) using the effect size estimate based on the original effect size estimated (derived from a single study) and the N of the replication sample. You could make a graph with on the X-axis this power, and on the Y-axis the result of the replication. Strong evidence in favor of your method would be if your result better predicts future replicability than any other index (see RPP for what they tried). Logistic regression seems to be the most appropriate technique for this.

Using multiple logistic regression, you can also assess if other indices have an added value above your predictions.

To conclude, for now you provide too limited results to convince readers that your approach is very useful.

Minor comments

P4 top: “heated debates” A few more sentence on this debate, including references to those debates would be fair. I would like to mention/recommend the studies of Maxwell et al (2015) in American Psychologist, the comment on the OSF piece in Science, and its response, and the very recent piece of Valen E Johnson et al (2016).

P4, middle: consider starting a new paragraph at “Actual replication”; In the sentence after this one, you may add “or not”;.

Another advantage of replication is that it may reveal heterogeneity (context dependence). Here, you may refer to the ManyLabs studies, which indeed reveal heterogeneity in about half of the replicated effects. Then, the next paragraph may start with “At the same time” To conclude, this piece starting with “Actual replication”; can be expanded a bit

P4, bottom,  “In contrast”; This and the preceding sentence is formulated as if sampling error does not exist. It is much too strong! Moreover, if the replication study had low power, sampling error is likely the reason of a statistically insignificant result. Here you can be more careful/precise. The last sentence of this paragraph is perfect.

P5, middle: consider adding more refs on estimates of power in psychology, e.g. Bakker and Wicherts 35% and that study on neuroscience with power estimates close to 20%. Last sentence of the same paragraph; assuming same true effect and same sample size.

P6, first paragraph around Rosenthal. Consider referring to the study of Johson et al (2016), who used a Bayesian analysis to estimate how many non-significant studies remain unpublished.

P7, top: &ldquo;studies have the same power (homogenous case) “(heterogenous case). This is awkward. Homogeneity and heterogeneity is generally reserved for variation in true effect size. Stick to that. Another problem here is that “heterogeneous”; power can be created by “heterogeneity”; in sample size and/or heterogeneity in effect size. These should be distinguished, because some methods can deal with heterogeneous power caused by heterogeneous N, but not heterogeneous true effect size. So, here, I would simple delete the texts between brackets.

P7, last sentence of first paragraph; I do not understand the sentence.

P10, “average power”. I did not understand this sentence.

P10, bottom: Why do you believe these methods to be most promising?

P11, 2nd par: Rephrase this sentence. Heterogeneity of effect size is not because of sampling variation. Later in this paragraph you also mix up heterogeneity with variation in power again. Of course, you could re-define heterogeneity, but I strongly recommend not doing so (in order not to confuse others); reserve heterogeneity to heterogeneity in true effect size.

P11, 3rd par, 1st sentence: I do not understand this sentence. But then again, this sentence may not be relevant (see major comments), because for applying p-uniform and p-curve heterogeneity of effect size is not relevant.

P11 bottom: maximum likelihood method. This sentence is not specific enough. But then again, this sentence may not be relevant (see major comments).

P12: Statistics without capital.

P12: “random sampling distribution”; delete “random”;. By the way, I liked this section on Notation and statistical background.

Section “Two populations of power”;. I believe this section is unnecessarily long, with a lot of text. Consider shortening. The spinning wheel analogy is ok.

P16, “close to the first” You mean second?

P16, last paragraph, 1st sentence: English?

Principle 2: The effect on what? Delete last sentence in the principle.

P17, bottom: include the average power after selection in your example.

p-curve/p-uniform: modify, as explained in one of the major comments.

P20, last sentence: Modify the sentence – the ML approach has excellent properties asymptotically, but not sample size is small. Now it states that it generally yields more precise estimates.

P25, last sentence of 4. Consider deleting this sentence (does not add anything useful).

P32: “We believe that a negative correlation between” some part of sentence is missing.

P38, penultimate sentence: explain what you mean by “decreasing the lower limit by .02”; and “increasing the upper limit by .02”;.

4 thoughts on “Peer-Reviews from Psychological Methods

  1. Jamlie DeCoster responded to an email that I sent him regarding his decision. Here is his reply.

    Dr. Schimmack,

    Thank you for writing to present your questions about these comments in my review. To make my responses clearer, I’ll put them following quotes from your letter.

    Dear Dr. Jamie McCoster,

    Not surprisingly, Jerry and I were disappointed in your decision. As you recommended, we will submit the manuscript to another journal, but I have one question about your main reason for rejecting our manuscript.

    “There are two main reasons that I decided not to accept your submission. The first deals with the value of your statistical estimate of replicability. My first concern is that you define replicability specifically within the context of NHST by focusing on power and p-values. I personally have fewer problems with NHST than many methodologists, but given the fact that the literature is slowly moving away from this paradigm, I don’t think it is wise to promote a method to handle replicability that is unusable for studies that are conducted outside of it. “

    I have three questions to you.

    1. I was surprised to see that you are a co-author of the Science article about the reproducibility project. This article used the very same criterion to estimate replicability (among other criteria) that you used to reject our manuscript as irrelevant. To refresh your memory, here are the important sections in the article.

    “The article used five indicators of reproducibility. “We evaluated reproducibility using significance and P values, effect sizes, subjective assessments of replication teams, and meta-analyses of effect sizes. All five of these indicators contribute information about the relations between the replication and original finding and the cumulative evidence about the effect and were positively correlated with one another.”

    “A straightforward method for evaluating replication is to test whether the replication shows a statistically significant effect (P < 0.05) with the same direction as the original study. This dichotomous vote-counting method is intuitively appealing and consistent with common heuristics used to decide whether original studies “worked.””

    This criterion also produced the most widely cited finding from the article that less than half of original studies were successfully replicated.

    Ninety-seven of 100 (97%) effects from original studies were positive results (…) however, there were just 35 [36.1%; 95% CI = (26.6%, 46.2%)], a significant reduction [McNemar test, c2(1) = 59.1, P p > 0.001), but the simultaneous use of alcohol and marijuana appear to create an antagonizing effect (within-groups: β = 0.118, SE = 0.013, p < 0.001; between-groups: β = 0.236, SE = 0.092, p < 0.05).”

    Can you provide me with some newer manuscripts that show examples of your new way of drawing inferences from samples that do not rely on NHST?

    I would agree that my own work is primarily performed using NHST, but I don't think that that invalidates what I am saying about the importance of focusing on methods and statistics that are consistent with the direction that the field is heading.

    I feel that your article would be more valuable and more likely to be used now and in the future if you had a measure of replicability that was more based on the similarity of the effects measured in a continuous fashion than an estimate based on the results of significance tests.


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