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Replication and Robustness in Developmental Research

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Replications and robustness checks are key elements of the scientific method and a staple in many disciplines. However, leading journals in developmental psychology rarely include explicit replications of prior research conducted by different investigators, and few require authors to establish in their articles or online appendices that their key results are robust across estimation methods, data sets, and demographic subgroups. This article makes the case for prioritizing both explicit replications and, especially, within-study robustness checks in developmental psychology. It provides evidence on variation in effect sizes in developmental studies and documents strikingly different replication and robustness-checking practices in a sample of journals in developmental psychology and a sister behavioral science-applied economics. Our goal is not to show that any one behavioral science has a monopoly on best practices, but rather to show how journals from a related discipline address vital concerns of replication and generalizability shared by all social and behavioral sciences. We provide recommendations for promoting graduate training in replication and robustness-checking methods and for editorial policies that encourage these practices. Although some of our recommendations may shift the form and substance of developmental research articles, we argue that they would generate considerable scientific benefits for the field. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

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