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Replication in second language research: Narrative and systematic reviews, and recommendations for the field.

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Publication details

JournalLanguage Learning
DateSubmitted - 2017
DateAccepted/In press - 4 Dec 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 5 Mar 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 Jun 2018
Issue number2
Number of pages70
Pages (from-to)321-391
Early online date5/03/18
Original languageEnglish


Despite its critical role for the development of the field, little is known about replication in second language (L2) research. To better understand replication practice, we first provide a narrative review of challenges related to replication, drawing on recent developments in psychology. This discussion frames and motivates a systematic review, building on syntheses of replication in psychology (Makel, Plucker, & Hegarty, 2012), education (Makel & Plucker, 2014), and L2 research (Polio, 2012b). 67 self-labelled L2 replication studies found across 26 journals were coded for 136 characteristics. We estimated a mean rate of 1 published replication study for every 400 articles, with a mean 6.64 years between initial and replication studies, and a mean 117 citations of the initial study before a replication was published. Replication studies had an annual mean 7.3 citations, much higher than averages in linguistics and education. Overlap in authorship between initial and replication studies and the availability of the initial materials both increased the likelihood of the replication supporting the initial findings. Our sample contained no direct (exact) replication attempts, and changes made to initial studies were numerous and wide-ranging, thus obscuring, if not undermining, the interpretability of replication studies. We end by proposing 16 recommendations, relating to rationales, nomenclature, design, infrastructure, and incentivization for collaboration and publication, to improve the amount and quality of L2 replication research.

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© 2018 The Authors.

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