For the past decade, psychology has been in the midst of a replication crisis. Large, high-profile studies have found that only about half of the findings from behavioral science literature can be replicated—a discovery that has cast a long shadow over psychological science, but that has also spurred advocates to push for improved research methods that boost rigor.
Now, one of the first systematic tests of these practices in psychology suggests they do indeed boost replication rates. When researchers “preregistered” their studies—committing to a written experiment and data analysis plan in advance—other labs were able to replicate 86% of the results, they report today in Nature Human Behaviour. That’s much higher than the 30% to 70% replication rates found in other large-scale studies.
“They’re showing that by adopting these more stringent experimental protocols, other labs are able to replicate the work, which I think is very important,” says David Peterson, a sociologist of science at Purdue University who was not involved with the work. But he and others warn that the replicated studies may have been different in other ways, too, so the results may not generalize to other research.