• Fail-safe numbers;
  • file drawer problem;
  • meta-analysis;
  • publication bias;
  • statistical methods.

Abstract Quantitative literature reviews such as meta-analysis are becoming common in evolutionary biology but may be strongly affected by publication biases. Using fail-safe numbers is a quick way to estimate whether publication bias is likely to be a problem for a specific study. However, previously suggested fail-safe calculations are unweighted and are not based on the framework in which most meta-analyses are performed. A general, weighted fail-safe calculation, grounded in the meta-analysis framework, applicable to both fixed- and random-effects models, is proposed. Recent meta-analyses published in Evolution are used for illustration.