Addressing issues of publication bias and the importance of publishing null findings in education research.

January 31, 2018

Introduction to Special Issue: Null Effects and Publication Bias in Learning Disabilities Research

This paper addresses null effects and publication bias, two important issues that are impediments to improving our knowledge of what works and what doesn’t in education. Despite great progress over the past twenty years in establishing empirical evidence for interventions and instructional practices in the field of education, more needs to be accomplished in identifying not only what works, but also what research can inform us about inaccurate evidence that can lead us down a blind alley. This key element in the scientific process has often been over looked in the body of research that is published. Therrien and Cook examine how the contingencies that control publication of research are limiting our knowledge by excluding results of research that suggest practices that don’t produce positive outcomes and conditions under which practices work. The paper highlights the fact that not all negative results are equal. One such instance is when research results are mixed, some revealing positive results and other studies offering negative outcomes. Negative effects in these situations can be of assistance in identifying the boundary conditions as to where and when the practice can be used effectively. Another benefit of null effects research is when popular opinion is such that everyone believes something to be, true-sugar increases hyperactivity, but rigorous research reveals there to be no significant cause and effect relationship.

Citation: Therrien, W. J. and Cook, Brian. G. (2018). Introduction to Special Issue: Null Effects and Publication Bias in Learning Disabilities Research. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice. DOI10.1111/ldrp.12163