I’m looking for paper(s) that talk about “why low $R^2$ value is acceptable in social science or education research”. Please point me to the right journal if you know one.

**Answer**

A paper by Abelson (1985) titled **“A variance explanation paradox: When a little is a lot”**, published in *Psychological Bulletin*, addresses (part of) this issue. In particular, Abelson shows that the proportion of variance shared between a dichotomous and a continuous variable can be surprisingly small, even when intuition would dictate a very large $R^2$ (he uses the example of whether a baseball batter would hit a ball or not, as a function of the batter’s batting average–yielding a whopping $R^2 < .001$).

Abelson goes on to explain that even such a tiny $R^2$ can be meaningful, as long as the effect under investigation can make itself felt over time.

P.S.: I used this paper a few months ago to respond to a reviewer who was unimpressed with our low $R^2$’s, and it hit the mark–our paper is now in press 🙂

- Reference: Abelson, R. P. (1985). A variance explanation paradox: When a little is a lot.
*Psychological Bulletin*,*97*, 129-133.

**Attribution***Source : Link , Question Author : Amin , Answer Author : Patrick Coulombe*