Letter of Concern

Hi all,

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!


Food for more thought

Hi all,

This paper might be of interest to you:

Ethical Issues and Guidelines for Conducting Data Analysis in Psychological Research, Rachel Wasserman (2013).

One of her questions is: How can researchers know when a questionable method they use to perform data analyses reflects a difference of opinion or a possible violation of ethics? 

Maybe this links works: EthicalIssues-Wasserman

Happy weekend,


Psychological Fridge

Dear bloglovers,

Ever since Han van der Maas asked the question “What is the psychological equivalent of the fridge?” I am haunted by it. Determined to solve this riddle I thought it might help me to zoom into what a fridge actually is. One of the characteristics of the fridge is that it’s a common product in the average household. So if I come to think of psychological researchers as inventors of products recognized by the average Joe/Jane what is that I can come up with? In class Sjoerd Glaser nominated the cito-toets, a test that serves as an indication instrument of the appropriate educational level. A test that pretty much all Dutch kids take before high school attendance. Although I agree on it’s impact on the average household and the idea of protecting a child to the subjectivity of a teacher, it’s usefulness is not evident to everybody. The anti-movement “Op weg naar geweldig onderwijs” actually pleads for abolishment of the test. In addition of it’s primal function as an unbiased instrument it also came to serve as an indicator of the educational quality of a school. Now, whatever my or your feelings are about the cito-toets it surely isn’t an equivalent of a fridge because 1) There clearly aren’t any actiongroups or demonstrations against the fridge 2) There is no way one could transform it’s function into let’s say a thermometer. Therefore, after more than a week of struggle, I would like to nominate my candidate for the psychological fridge: The Quarter-Life Crisis (QLC).

Which is described as:

Common symptoms of a quarter life crisis are often feelings of being “lost, scared, lonely or confused” about what steps to take in order to transition properly into adulthood. Studies have shown that unemployment and choosing a career path is a major cause for young persons to undergo stress or anxiety. Early stages of one living on their own for the first time and learning to cope without parental help can also induce feelings of isolation and loneliness. ~ Wikipedia

The striking commonality with the fridge is that is serves as a container for a lot of things. Another breathtaking similarity is that although underlying processes of the phenomena are highly complex both it functions are evident at first sight. A third convincing argument is that every first world country inhabitant will encounter it, at least at some point of his/her life. Finally there is no ambiguity in the usage of QLC: A QLC is no midlife crises in a way that a fridge isn’t a freezer.

Although I’m quite convinced of the relevance and persuasive arguments in favour of QLC I do think there is a possibility for multiple solutions. Please feel free to make your nomination.

Yours truly,