May 2018

Publication Bias and the Cross-Section of Stock Returns

Andrew Y. Chen and Tom Zimmermann


We develop an estimator for publication bias and apply it to 156 hedge portfolios based on published cross-sectional return predictors. Publication bias adjusted returns are only 12% smaller than in-sample returns. The small bias comes from the dispersion of returns across predictors, which is too large to be accounted for by data-mined noise. Among predictors that can survive journal review, a low t-stat hurdle of 1.8 controls for multiple testing using statistics recommended by Harvey, Liu, and Zhu (2015). The estimated bias is too small to account for the deterioration in returns after publication, suggesting an important role for mispricing.
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Keywords: data mining, mispricing, publication bias, stock return anomalies


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Last Update: January 09, 2020