File Drawer Problem

The file drawer is a metaphorical term referring to a storage location for nonpublished research. The file drawer problem, a term coined by Robert Rosenthal, refers to the possibility that nonpublished results differ systematically from published results. Systematic differences between published and nonpublished research are especially problematic for the field of education, where summaries of research through meta-analysis are increasingly relied upon to inform practice. This entry describes the nature, causes, and consequences of the file drawer problem as well as the methods for its detection and eradication.

Of all studies conducted by researchers, some become published and easily accessible to consumers. Other studies are said to be relegated to the file drawer. The file drawer problem is one type of publication bias, a broader phenomenon ...

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