Missing data such as data missing at random (MAR) are unavoidable in real data and have the potential to undermine the validity of research results. Multiple imputation is one of the most widely used MAR-based methods in education and behavioral science applications. Arbitrarily specifying imputation models can lead to incompatibility and cause biased estimation. Building on the recent developments of model-based imputation and Arnold’s compatibility work, this paper systematically summarizes when the traditional fully conditional specification (FCS) is applicable and how to specify a model-based imputation model if needed. We summarize two Compatibility Requirements to help researchers check compatibility more easily and a decision tree to check whether the traditional FCS is applicable in a given scenario. Additionally, we present a clear overview of two types of model-based imputation: the sequential and separate specifications. We illustrate how to specify model-based imputation with examples. Additionally, we provide example code of a free software program, Blimp, for implementing model-based imputation.
Du, H., Alacam, E., Mena, S., & Keller, B. (Accepted). Compatibility in Imputation Specification. Behavior Research Methods.