The File Drawer Problem in Finance Journals: Documentation of a Well-Known Problem
Posted: 21 May 2019
Date Written: August 14, 2017
The “file drawer problem” is a publication bias where editors of journals are much more likely to accept empirical papers with statistically significant results than those with non-significant results. As a result, papers that have non-significant results are not published and relegated to the file drawer, never to be seen by others. In this paper, we examine the prevalence of the file drawer problem in finance journals. To do this we examine 29 finance journals for five years (2010-2014). These journals include A-ranked journals as well as B- and C-ranked journals. In an examination of over 5740 empirical papers we found only 121, or 2.1 percent of the papers, had statistically non-significant results. Indeed, for some journals there was not a single article that had non-significant results. Furthermore, our findings indicate that the file drawer problem is just as bad, if not worse, in lower-ranked journals as it is in top-ranked journals. The percentage of papers with non-significant results is actually somewhat smaller in B- and C-ranked journals than the A-ranked journals. These results suggest that there is a publication bias in finance journals.
Keywords: File Drawer Problem; Finance Journals; P-Hacking
JEL Classification: G10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation