I decided to write my letter of concern to Agnetha Fischer. As an example of what I think psychological research can be I used the Pikkety debate. A debate that is characterized by a high technical and social-political discourse but with transparency, of both data and method, as a driving force behind it. I describe what I have been sharing with you in the poster presentation on high competition in psychological science as a possible explanation of scientific misconduct. I mentioned the paradox of the general rejection of the usage of QRP’s together with the estimated high amount of QRP’s. Next to this I used the example of the impact of mentors (both bad and good) to show that self-regulation is apparently too much to expect from researchers themselves and therefore clear rules and arbitration is necessary to minimize misconduct. Because I hold the UvA responsible as the organisation that creates the context of desirable and undesirable behavior of it’s employees I recommend the following:
1. Get informed: Communicate with your employees about the problems psychological science is facing and involve them in policy making on diminishing chances on misconduct like QRP’s. Minimize the chance of feelings of frustration when introducing new strategies.
2. Become an Open Access University: Every UvA-researchers that has published an article should also provide the raw data and data-analyses on the institutes website. This should be an open and interactive environment for registered individuals including those outside the UvA-community: The UvA Open Access website.
3. Scientific Arbitration Team (SA-Team): There should be frequent investigations on published articles on QRP’s and data handling of UvA- employees. This can be done at random just as tax-officers do their audits. This investigations should be lead by the SA-team who are supported by master students of the methodology – and research department. Investigating QRP’s should become a part of the students curriculum because it teaches the students judgement on research and because it will generate a thinking process that will make them reflect on their own integrity.
I included other responsibilities and prospects for future activities for the SA-team which I am happy to share with you while enjoying a drink on a Thursday afternoon.
Most important for me to communicate was that these recommendations should facilitate a transition in which pre-registration and sharing knowledge is the new norm in order to make psychological research more reliable and meaningful. Self-regulation of the individual researchers and the scientific community trough transparency is the key aspect of these “solutions”. I further discuss expected positive consequences (regulation by self and others, enhancement of UvA’s public profile etc.) and expected negative effects (resistent to change, practical, financial) of these recommendations.
My conclusion of it all:
“Although the field of psychology is going true rough times, the UvA could become a precursor in turning the tide. In order to blossom, psychology and the UvA need rigorous change that goes beyond the comfort-zone of the average scientist or organisation. By implementation of new organizational strategies one will enforce a more reliable practice and optimize the conditions for outstanding scientific conduct. I firmly believe that these recommendations will lead to the integrity psychological research needs. That finding the truth becomes once again the core priority of the research practice.”
Cheers and see you around!