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Questionable research practices when using confirmatory factor analysis

Marcus Crede (Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA)
Peter Harms (Culverhouse College of Business, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 13 February 2019

Issue publication date: 19 February 2019




The purpose of this paper is to describe common questionable research practices (QRPs) engaged in by management researchers who use confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) as part of their analysis.


The authors describe seven questionable analytic practices and then review one year of journal articles published in three top-tier management journals to estimate the base rate of these practices.


The authors find that CFA analyses are characterized by a high base rate of QRPs with one practice occurring for over 90 percent of all assessed articles.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of this paper call into question the validity and trustworthiness of results reported in much of the management literature.

Practical implications

The authors provide tentative guidelines of how editors and reviewers might reduce the degree to which the management literature is characterized by these QRPs.


This is the first paper to estimate the base rate of six QRPs relating to the widely used analytic tool referred to as CFA in the management literature.



Crede, M. and Harms, P. (2019), "Questionable research practices when using confirmatory factor analysis", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 18-30.



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