Phaf, R. H. (2020). Publish less, read more. Theory & Psychology, 30(2), 263-285. https://doi.org/10.1177/0959354319898250
A publication deluge has impeded rather than advanced theory in experimental psychology. Many researchers rely more on null-hypothesis significance testing than literature studies to determine whether results are worthwhile. Four problematic publication practices are symptomatic for the theoretical deficit: (a) reinventing the wheel, (b) the Proteus phenomenon, (c) mechanical (non) replications, and (d) the survival of discredited hypotheses. Remedies include the development of AI tools recommending semantically related references, mandatory hypothesizing before and after results are known, and theoretical syntheses guided by meta-analyses and process models. The nonlinear theoretical development shows parallels to the optimization procedure of biological evolution. Theoretical hypotheses rather than experimental results are the elementary units of science. The fittest theories may survive alongside the least fit because they are not made to compete in research publications. Even if publication practices improve, winning hypotheses will often represent local optima and still cannot be taken with absolute certainty.