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A New Mechanism to Alleviate the Crises of Confidence in Science-With An Application to the Public Goods Game

Luigi Butera, Philip J. Grossman, Daniel Houser, John A. List, Marie-Claire Villeval

NBER Working Paper No. 26801
Issued in February 2020
NBER Program(s):Environment and Energy Economics, Industrial Organization, Public Economics

Creation of empirical knowledge in economics has taken a dramatic turn in the past few decades. One feature of the new research landscape is the nature and extent to which scholars generate data. Today, in nearly every field the experimental approach plays an increasingly crucial role in testing theories and informing organizational decisions. Whereas there is much to appreciate about this revolution, recently a credibility crisis has taken hold across the social sciences, arguing that an important component of Fischer (1935)'s tripod has not been fully embraced: replication. Indeed, while the importance of replications is not debatable scientifically, current incentives are not sufficient to encourage replications from the individual researcher's perspective. We analyze a novel mechanism that promotes replications by leveraging mutually beneficial gains between scholars and editors. We develop a model capturing the trade-offs involved in seeking independent replications before submission of a paper to journals. We demonstrate the operation of this method via an investigation of the effects of Knightian uncertainty on cooperation rates in public goods games, a pervasive and yet largely unexplored feature in the literature.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26801

 
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