Best Practices for Addressing Missing Data through Multiple Imputation

Authors: Woods, A., Vasilev, M. et al.

DOI: 10.31234/


A common challenge in developmental research is the amount of incomplete and missing data that occurs from respondents failing to complete tasks or questionnaires, as well as from disengaging from the study (i.e., attrition). This missingness can lead to biases in parameter estimates and, hence, in the interpretation of findings. These biases can be addressed through statistical techniques that adjust for missing data, such as multiple imputation. Although this technique is highly effective, it has not been widely adopted by developmental scientists given barriers such as lack of training or misconceptions about imputation methods and instead utilizing default methods within software like listwise deletion. This manuscript is intended to provide practical guidelines for developmental researchers to follow when examining their data for missingness, making decisions about how to handle that missingness, and reporting the extent of missing data biases and specific multiple imputation procedures in publications.

Source: Europe PubMed Central