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The replicability crisis and the p-value debate – what are the consequences for the agricultural and food economics community?

Heckelei, Thomas; Hüttel, Silke; Odening, Martin; Rommel, Jens


A vivid debate is ongoing in the scientific community about statistical malpractice and the related publication bias. No general consensus exists on the consequences and this is reflected in heterogeneous rules defined by scientific journals on the use and reporting of statistical inference. This paper aims at discussing how the debate is perceived by the agricultural economics community and implications for our roles as researchers, contributors to the scientific publication process, and teachers. We start by summarizing the current state of the p-value debate and the replication crisis, and commonly applied statistical practices in our community. This is followed by motivation, design, results and discussion of a survey on statistical knowledge and practice among the researchers in the agricultural economics community in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. We conclude that beyond short-term measures like changing rules of reporting in publications, a cultural change regarding empirical scientific practices is needed that stretches across all our roles in the scientific process. Acceptance of scientific work should largely be based on the theoretical and methodological rigor and where the perceived relevance arises from the questions asked, the methodology employed, and the data used but not from the results generated. Revised and clear journal guidelines, the creation of resources for teaching and research, and public recognition of good practice are suggested measures to move forward.


Statistical inference; p-hacking; pre-registration; publication bias; replication crisis

Published in

Food and Resource Economics, Discussion Paper
2021, number: 2021:2
Publisher: University of Bonn

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    Business Administration

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