The GRIM test — a method for evaluating published research.

The GRIM test.

An Example of Granularity

How did this come about?

  • The GRIM test detects inconsistencies in the published means of small samples.
  • It is embarrassingly easy to understand and to run.

Using the GRIM test — What we did.

  1. sample size,
  2. the amount of decimal places reported in the mean, and
  3. the amount of subcomponents in each thing that’s measured (i.e. a scale with 7 items has more sub-components than a scale with 2 items).

1 in 2 papers that we checked reported at least one impossible value.

1 in 5 papers that we checked reported multiple impossible values.

What’s going on?

1. Us evaluating a mean incorrectly / making our own mistakes

2. Incorrect reporting of cell sizes

3. Bad reporting of composite measures

4. Typo

5. Not accounting for missing data

6. Fraud


The Real Problem

  • 2 authors, even though we confirmed their institutional emails were current, never replied at all to any email
  • 2 authors who were … let’s be charitable and say ‘hostile’ to the process
  • 2 authors who were perfectly happy to talk about the process but gently faded away when it was clear that we wanted to see their data
  • 2 authors who replied with identically worded refusals to share data, even though they seem to have no formal connection otherwise
  • 2 papers where one of the authors or associates is known to have committed research fraud previously…


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James Heathers

James Heathers

I write about science. We can probably be friends.

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