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Making replication mainstream

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 October 2017

Rolf A. Zwaan
Department of Psychology, Education, and Child Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands. zwaan@essb.eur.nl
Alexander Etz
Department of Cognitive Sciences, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-5100. etz.alexander@gmail.com
Richard E. Lucas
Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. lucasri@msu.edu
M. Brent Donnellan
Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843. donnel59@msu.edu


Many philosophers of science and methodologists have argued that the ability to repeat studies and obtain similar results is an essential component of science. A finding is elevated from single observation to scientific evidence when the procedures that were used to obtain it can be reproduced and the finding itself can be replicated. Recent replication attempts show that some high profile results – most notably in psychology, but in many other disciplines as well – cannot be replicated consistently. These replication attempts have generated a considerable amount of controversy, and the issue of whether direct replications have value has, in particular, proven to be contentious. However, much of this discussion has occurred in published commentaries and social media outlets, resulting in a fragmented discourse. To address the need for an integrative summary, we review various types of replication studies and then discuss the most commonly voiced concerns about direct replication. We provide detailed responses to these concerns and consider different statistical ways to evaluate replications. We conclude there are no theoretical or statistical obstacles to making direct replication a routine aspect of psychological science.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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Current address: Department of Psychology, Psychology Building, 316 Physics Road, Room 249A, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.


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