The file drawer effect, or file drawer problem, is that many studies in a given area of research may be conducted but never reported, and those that are not reported may on average report different results from those that are reported. An extreme scenario is that a given null hypothesis of interest is in fact true, i.e. the association being studied does not exist, but the 5% of studies that by chance show a statistically significant result are published, while the remaining 95% where the null hypothesis was not rejected languish in researchers’ file drawers. Even a small number of studies lost “in the file drawer” can result in a significant bias..
The term was coined by the psychologist Robert Rosenthal in 1979.