Pete Gries writes:
I [Gries] am not sure if what you are suggesting by “doing data analysis in a patternless way” is a pitch for deductive over inductive approaches as a solution to the problem of reporting and publication bias. If so, I may somewhat disagree. A constant quest to prove or disprove theory in a deductive manner is one of the primary causes of both reporting and publication bias. I’m actually becoming a proponent of a remarkably non-existent species – “applied political science” – because there is so much animosity in our discipline to inductive empirical statistical work that seeks to answer real world empirical questions rather than contribute to parsimonious theory building. Anyone want to start a JAPS – Journal of Applied Political Science? Our discipline is in danger of irrelevance.
My reply: By “doing data analysis in a patternless way,” I meant statistical methods such as least squares, maximum likelihood, etc., that estimate parameters independently without recognizing the constraints and relationships between them. If you estimate each study on its own, without reference to all the other work being done in the same field, then you’re depriving yourself of a lot of information and inviting noisy estimates and, in particular, overestimates of small effects.