The File Drawer Problem in Finance Journals: Documentation of a Well-Known Problem

Posted: 21 May 2019

See all articles by Matthew R. Morey

Matthew R. Morey

Pace University - Lubin School of Business - Department of Finance and Economics

Sonu Yadav

Pace University

Date Written: August 14, 2017

Abstract

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

Morey, Matthew R. and Yadav, Sonu, The File Drawer Problem in Finance Journals: Documentation of a Well-Known Problem (August 14, 2017). Pace University Finance Research Paper No. 2019/02; https://doi.org/10.3905/joi.2018.27.1.143. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3044793 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3044793

Matthew R. Morey (Contact Author)

Pace University - Lubin School of Business - Department of Finance and Economics ( email )

One Pace Plaza
New York, NY 10038-1502
United States
212-618-6471 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://webpage.pace.edu/mmorey/

Sonu Yadav

Pace University

One Pace Plaza
White Plains, NY New York 10603
United States

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