Do Not Replicate (DNR) orders

What is a do not replicate order?

A do not replicate order (DNR) order is a kind of advance directive. A DNR is a request not to have your experiment replicated if your hypothesis is accepted, or if it provides support for your theory. Unless given other instructions, researchers will try to replicate any experiment with ‘positive’ results: you can use an advance directive form or tell your journal editor that you don’t want your experiment to be replicated. Your journal editor will put the DNR order in your supplementary documentation when your paper is published. Editors and journals in all states accept DNR orders.

Should I have an advance direcTive?

By creating an advance directive, you are making your preferences about your hypotheses known before you’re faced with a serious failure to replicate or refutation. This will spare your research team the stress of making decisions about the tenability of your hypotheses while you defend them with hyperbole and ad hoc reasoning. Any person 18 years of age or older can prepare an advance directive.

People who are seriously or terminally implausible are more likely to have an advance directive. For example, someone who has terminal implausibility might write that he does not want to be put on a replication program due to ceiling effects. This action can reduce his suffering, increase his peace of mind and increase his control over the literature. However, even if you are plausible, you might want to consider writing an advance directive. An accident or serious failure to replicate can happen suddenly, and if you already have a signed advance directive, your wishes are more likely to be followed.

How can I write an advance directive?

You can write an advance directive in several ways:

  • Use a form provided by your editor
  • Write your wishes down by yourself
  • Call a lawyer

Advance directives and DNRs do not have to be complicated legal documents. They can be short, simple statements about what you want done or not done if you can’t influence or control the replication yourself. Remember, anything you write by yourself or with a computer software package should follow your state laws. You may also want to have what you have written reviewed by your editor or a lawyer to make sure your directives are understood exactly as you intended. When you are satisfied with your directives, the orders should be notarized if possible, and copies should be given to your research team and your editor.

Can I change my advance directive?

If you suddenly remember the scientific method, or even if you just get over yourself, you may change or cancel your advance directive at any time, as long as you are considered of sound mind to do so. Being of sound mind means that you are still able to think rationally and communicate your wishes in a clear manner, which is ironically what people generally expect scientists to do. Again, your changes must be made, signed and notarized according to the laws in your state. Make sure that your editor and any research team members who knew about your directives are also aware that you have changed them.

If you do not have time to put your changes in writing, you can make them known. Tell your editor and any members of the research team present exactly what you want to happen. Usually, wishes that are made in person will be followed in place of the ones made earlier in writing. Be sure your instructions are clearly understood by everyone you have told.

DNR Template


I have discussed my paper with my editor _______________________.

I request that in the event of my hypotheses being accepted, no person shall attempt to replicate my study.

This order is in effect until it is revoked by me.

Being of sound mind & of a superficially scientific disposition, I voluntarily execute this order, and I understand its full import.


(Declarant’s signature)




(Type or print declarant’s full name)


(Editor’s signature)




(Type or print editor’s full name)


The individual who has executed this order appears to be of sound mind, and under no duress, fraud, or undue influence, save that of misunderstanding the processes by which scientific knowledge is advanced.


(Witness signature)




(Type or print witness’s full name)

This form was prepared pursuant to, and in compliance with, the “Harvard do-not-replicate procedure act”.

Downloadable form in Word format here


6 responses to “Do Not Replicate (DNR) orders

  1. Can I apply for a DNR retrospectively? You see, for years I was happy that people were replicating my work – conceptually, that is – because they always confirmed that I was right.
    But lately, I have been hearing rumours that people are finding it difficult to “directly” replicate my work.
    So can I get a DNR to make it clear that we don’t need any more replications, and should just stick with the existing ones?

  2. Yes. If you feel that you have had enough replication attempts, you can elect to stop any further attempts, especially ‘serious’ replications, by using a DNR order.
    Attempts at ‘serious’ replication can cause a dramatic and sudden loss of credibility, even more so if they expose a lack of even the most basic appreciation of the scientific method. A DNR order can free your career of any such discomforting challenges.

  3. Pingback: Les chercheurs en psychologie s’écharpent, et nous ne devrions pas nous en … | Populär-Wissenschaftliche Monatsblätter

  4. Now, if we can only get journals to automatically reject submitted manuscripts with an advanced directive filled out….

  5. Brilliant.

    A bit sad that I plan to have “DNR” tattooed on my chest, but still: Brilliant!

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