Methodological “urban legends”

The Sources of Four Commonly Reported Cutoff Criteria What Did They Really Say? (read full text as PDF)

Charles E. Lance
Marcus M. Butts
Lawrence C. Michels
University of Georgia
Everyone can recite methodological “urban legends” that were taught in graduate school,
learned over the years through experience publishing, or perhaps just heard through the grapevine.
In this article, the authors trace four widely cited and reported cutoff criteria to their
(alleged) original sources to determine whether they really said what they are cited as having said
about the cutoff criteria, and if not, what the original sources really said. The authors uncover
partial truths in tracing the history of each cutoff criterion and in the end endorse a set of 12 specific
guidelines for effective academic referencing provided by Harzing that, if adopted, should
help prevent the further perpetuation of methodological urban legends.
Keywords: cutoff criteria; citation analysis; goodness of fit; reliability; factor analysis.

It’s a semi-true story
Believe it or not
I made up a few things
And there’s some I forgot . . .
—Mac McAnally (1999)