Re-Blogged: Solid science – How graduate students foster research transparency

replication nicole janz in mindRe-Blogged from the InMind blog (and written by me): Reproducibility is seen as the gold standard for solid science. However, three are few incentive to work transparently, and even less incentives to conduct replication studies. To change this, more and more teachers are assigning replication studies to graduate students as a class assignment. Will this turn early career researchers into witch hunters?

Many scientists still remember the largest academic scandal of 2013: The article “Growth in a Time of Debt” by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff had produced results in their paper that could not be replicated. One of the reasons why no researcher could reproduce their results was that the authors made a simple coding error in their excel spread sheet. For many years, this paper had been heavily relied on by politicians to introduce austerity measures. How was the error uncovered? A graduate student conducted a replication study and asked to see their data set, which had not been openly available before.

This example shows that research transparency – or the lack thereof – can have a direct impact on society. In order to establish such transparency, more and more instructors assign replication studies to students. This way, students learn statistical methods based on real life data, add important knowledge to their field, and they can get published early in their career. Most importantly, however, students develop a reproducibility routine in their own work. When struggling to access data, or when being unable to follow the exact analysis of published work, students learn how to improve their own transparency. So far, this trend of assigning replication studies has been welcomed in the academic world.

However, recently there seems to be a replication backlash. Is it really a good idea to let students ‘take on’ established researchers and ‘correct’ their results? A Cambridge scholar in the field of social psychology, whose paper failed to replicate, ….

Read more on the InMind blog.

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