Spreadsheets are dangerous to their authors and others.
Durusau & Hunting (2015)
Overconfidence is one of the most substantial causes of spreadsheet errors.
Sakal, et al (2015)
Developing an error-free spreadsheet has been a problem since the beginning of end-user computing.
Mireault (2015)
Even obvious, elementary errors in very simple, clearly documented spreadsheets are... difficult to find.
Galletta, et al (1993)
Spreadsheets are more fault-prone than other software.
Kulesz & Ostberg (2013)
Untested spreadsheets are riddled with errors.
Miller (2005)
Spreadsheets can be viewed as a highly flexible programming environment for end users.
Abreu, et al (2015)
Spreadsheets are extraordinarily and unacceptably prone to error.
Dunn (2010)
1% of all formulas in operational spreadsheets are in error.
Powell, Baker, & Lawson (2009)
The results given by spreadsheets are often just wrong.
Sajaniemi (1998)
Despite overwhelming and unanimous evidence... companies have continued to ignore spreadsheet error risks.
Panko (2014)
People tend to believe their spreadsheets are more accurate than they really are.
Caulkins, Morrison, & Weidemann (2006)
Despite being staggeringly error prone, spreadsheets are a highly flexible programming environment.
Abreu, et al (2015)
Spreadsheets have a notoriously high number of faults.
Rust, et al (2006)
60% of large companies feel 'Spreadsheet Hell' describes their reliance on spreadsheets.
Murphy (2007)
Never assume a spreadsheet is right, even your own.
Raffensperger (2001)
Spreadsheets contain errors at an alarmingly high rate.
Abraham, et al (2005)
Spreadsheet shortcomings can significantly hamper an organization's business operation.
Reschenhofer & Matthes (2015)
Every study that has looked for errors has found them... in considerable abundance.
Panko & Halverson (1996)
Spreadsheet errors... a great, often unrecognised, risk to corporate decision making & financial integrity.
Chadwick (2002)
Programmers exhibit unwarranted confidence in the correctness of their spreadsheets.
Krishna, et al (2001)
Spreadsheets are commonly used and commonly flawed.
Caulkins, Morrison, & Weidemann (2008)
The quality and reliability of spreadsheets is known to be poor.
Bishop & McDaid (2007)
The software that end users are creating... is riddled with errors.
Burnett & Myers (2014)
Your spreadsheets may be disasters in the making.
Caulkins, Morrison, & Weidemann (2006)
Most large spreadsheets have dozens or even hundreds of errors.
Panko & Ordway (2005)
94% of the 88 spreadsheets audited in 7 studies have contained errors.
Panko (2008)
Studies have shown that there is a high incidence of errors in spreadsheets.
Csernoch & Biro (2013)
Every study, without exception, has found error rates much higher than organizations would wish to tolerate.
Panko (1999)
Errors in spreadsheets are as ubiquitous as spreadsheets themselves.
Colbenz (2005)
Spreadsheets are notoriously error-prone.
Cunha, et al (2011)
Spreadsheet errors are still the rule rather than the exception.
Nixon & O'Hara (2010)
Spreadsheet errors have resulted in huge financial losses.
Abraham & Erwig (2007)
Spreadsheets are often hard, if not impossible, to understand.
Mireault & Gresham (2015)
Spreadsheets are the most popular live programming environments, but they are also notoriously fault-prone.
Hermans & van der Storm (2015)
The issue is not whether there is an error but how many errors there are and how serious they are.
Panko (2007)
It is now widely accepted that errors in spreadsheets are both common and potentially dangerous.
Nixon & O'Hara (2010)
...few incidents of spreadsheet errors are made public and these are usually not revealed by choice.
Kruck & Sheetz (2001)
Research on spreadsheet errors is substantial, compelling, and unanimous.
Panko (2015)
A lot of decisions are being made on the basis of some bad numbers.
Ross (1996)
Spreadsheet development must embrace extensive testing in order to be taken seriously as a profession.
Bock (2016)
Errors in spreadsheets... result in incorrect decisions being made and significant losses incurred.
Beaman, et al (2005)
Spreadsheet errors are pervasive, stubborn, ubiquitous and complex.
Irons (2003)
Spreadsheets are alarmingly error-prone to write.
Paine (2001)
A significant proportion of spreadsheets have severe quality problems.
Ayalew (2007)
It is irrational to expect large error-free spreadsheets.
Panko (2013)
The untested spreadsheet is as dangerous and untrustworthy as an untested program.
Price (2006)
Spreadsheets... pose a greater threat to your business than almost anything you can imagine.
Howard (2005)
Most executives do not really check or verify the accuracy or validity of [their] spreadsheets...
Teo & Tan (1999)
Spreadsheets are easy to use and very hard to check.
Chen & Chan (2000)

Spreadsheet bibliography

Title Thinking is bad: Implications of human error research for spreadsheet research and practice
Authors Raymond R. Panko
Year 2007
Type Proceedings
Publication EuSpRIG
Series  
Abstract

In the spreadsheet error community, both academics and practitioners generally have ignored the rich findings produced by a century of human error research.

These findings can suggest ways to reduce errors; we can then test these suggestions empirically.

In addition, research on human error seems to suggest that several common prescriptions and expectations for reducing errors are likely to be incorrect.

Among the key conclusions from human error research are that thinking is bad, that spreadsheets are not the cause of spreadsheet errors, and that reducing errors is extremely difficult.

Full version Available
Sample
Error rates for different types of errors
Error rates for different types of errors

Error detection rates are different for the different types of errors: slip/lapse, formula, and modeling.

This research leads to three fundamental conclusions:

  • The problem is not spreadsheets. The real issue is that thinking is bad. We are accurate 96% to 98% of the time when we do think. But when we build spreadsheets with thousands (or even dozens) of root formulas, the issue is not whether there is an error but how many errors there are and how serious they are.
  • Making large spreadsheets error free is theoretically and practically impossible and that even reducing errors by 80% to 90% is extremely difficult and will require spending about 30% of project time on testing and inspection.
  • Replacing spreadsheets with packages does not eliminate errors and many not even reduce them.
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