Open science movement – vanity or real need for improvement of replicability and transparency in scientific research
Over the last few years in psychology, and other fields, e.g., biomedical research, Pandora’s box was opened – it was made public that a lot of seminal findings cannot be replicated independently. This started an avalanche of suggestions aimed to improve research practices, specifically how to present scientific findings to scientific and layman public, and incentives shaping what and how to present. Participants will discuss whether these problems are serious, and in what extent suggested “remedies” are efficient in different disciplines considering specificities of the local context.
Doc. Dr. Iris Žeželj, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, Belgrade
Prof. Dr. Biljana Stojković, Faculty of Biology, Belgrade
Prof. Dr. Slobodan Perović, Department of Philosophy, Belgrade
Dr. Biljana Stanković, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, Belgrade
Dr. Ljiljana Lazarević, research associate, Institute of Psychology, Belgrade
One of very important questions in psychology and other scientific fields (for example, medical biology and pharmacology) is replicability of research findings published in peer-reviewed journals. Coordinated efforts of great number of laboratories to replicate even seminal studies are often discouraging. Evidence are accumulating that difficulties in replicability often stem from inadequate research practices: orientation to statistical significance of the findings (publication bias, selection of results in line with hypotheses, conducting series of experiments with low statistical power), and orientation towards new, counterintuitive results opposite to accumulation of reliable and robust results. Parallel with revealing these weaknesses, alternative practices that would mitigate or eliminate them are suggested and improved (preregistration of research designs, incitements of replication publishing and publishing of negative results, insisting on larger samples of higher statistical power, sharing materials and databases). Are these changes necessary and/or sufficient, remains to be answered.
Having in mind that dual nature of human kind implies unique join of biological and social characteristics, understanding different aspects of our species is special research challenge where biology, psychology and humanities are interwind. It is not unknown that biological concepts were misused to verify certain ideologies, often xenophobic, racist, misogynist, and similar. In addition to ideological components, influence of genetic determinism, i.e. idea that every person is totally determined by his/her genes, can be seen in contemporary attitude toward health and perception of individual differences. The neglect of biological knowledge about interactions between genes and between genotype and the environment, leads to several erroneous conclusions with a tendency to violate human rights and freedom. Specifically, we will talk about the practices in creation of forensic and medical genetic databases of the population, what are the possibilities of use and misuse of such databases and what is the experience of the countries in which they exist for several decades.
Since the beginning of the scientific revolution, physics was often treated as a fundamental science whose experimental method is a prototype applicable in all other sciences. Would, however, understanding of experimental methods in psychology, especially understanding the standards of replication, should be kept, and to what extent it should be guided with standards of experimentation in physics? What exactly are these standards and do they vary in different subfields of physics? Consideration of the similarities and differences between the experimental process in physics and psychology concerns primarily uniformity, the sample size, and appropriate standards in statistical analysis. Depending on the conclusions from such considerations it will depend whether it is appropriate to expect similar level of replication of experimental results in both sciences.
What consequences suggested measures for improvement of the quality of psychological research have on the research relying on the alternative methodological paradigm – qualitative methodology? Qualitative research grow in popularity in different fields of psychology, and they exist for a longer time in other social sciences, especially in anthropology and sociology. Due to methodological specificities of qualitative research, majority of standard criteria for the assessment of the research quality, and many of suggested improvements cannot be applied without significant changes. For example, how research conducted in specific local context outside of the laboratory should be replicated, how to make data like transcribed interviews public without threatening anonymity of the participants, and what is the use of preregistration of the design of explorative research, etc. Alternative solutions for improvement of the quality of the studies, considering methodological specificities of qualitative research in psychology and other social sciences will be discussed.