On 30 April, the Victorian Branch hosted three short talks on Reproducibility and Open
Science, attended by about 40 people.
The evening began with a talk by Hannah Fraser (University of Melbourne) who presented the findings from a survey of 800 ecologists on questionable research practices. About 40% of those surveyed stated that they did add data after analysis, 28% excluded data after analysis, and 64% study more variables than what is reported (i.e. cherry picking of results). Future research Hannah is conducting involves recruiting scientists to analyse two ecology datasets to evaluate how robust the results are to different analysis techniques.
Our second speaker was Fiona Fidler (University of Melbourne) who began with some sobering statistics on the replication crisis; across many research areas less than 50% of results are reproducible. For the psychological sciences, one in a thousand published papers are replication studies, the average statistical power of published studies is <50% and 92% of published studies have statistically significant results. For a solution to this problem, Fiona described the new approach to peer review which has now been adopted by 187 journals. Here at the design stage of a study there is a peer review by a journal of the research questions, study design and planned analysis. And if the study follows very closely the registered report that was peer reviewed than the journal has the obligation to publish the research findings when the study is complete.
Our final speaker was Mathew Ling (Deakin University), who spoke about how individuals still engage in poor behaviours (e.g. people still smoke, scientists still present 3D pie charts). He discussed how we can’t expect researchers to simply change behaviour and practice open science. Instead we need to do more PR activities to promote people doing Open Science and come up with more incentives for researchers to embrace Open Science (e.g. funding bodies).
There was a lively discussion at the end of all 3 excellent presentations. Fiona and Hannah promoted their new crowdsourcing project titled the repliCATS project.