If you are reading this blog, you have probably seen some of the news about the new Replication Research Reports to appear in Perspectives on Psychological Science. http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/replication But something you probably haven’t seen, or heard… A few months ago, I was at a meeting describing this PoPS initiative and a senior researcher said, in front of two dozen other folks,
“But I don’t want people to try to replicate my research.”
There was a hush. And I had to stop myself from saying, “Wait. You mean that you want your papers growing musty on shelves and unaccessed in cyberspace?”
Then I realized that THAT was not the fear. Rather, this researcher feared that the “replication movement” could be out to get her. She thought that if people were trying to replicate her work, it would mean that they were targeting her and “trying” to show that it was non-reproducible. In fact, during that meeting the project was called “McCarthyism” not once but twice.
I know that some of you may be against the “replication movement” in psychology. I assure you that this PoPS project is not meant to be any kind of “debunking” of particular research. Rather, we intend to involve the original authors, and involve labs that believe, disbelieve, and are neutral about the existence and generalizability and size of the effects. We also intend to involve all areas of psychology.
And, we certainly do not intend to advocate that this is the only way science should be done. There are upcoming articles in Perspectives that will “put replication in its place.” But I believe that replication should be more valued as a tool than it currently is. And there seems to be a wave across all the biological sciences (especially the medical sciences) agreeing.
Better humor about replication was evinced at a recent discussion at The Columbia University Department of Psychology a few weeks ago. Speaker Niall Bolger showed the page in psychfiledrawer.org where researchers can nominate and vote for studies that they would like to see replicated. Here’s the top-20 list: http://www.psychfiledrawer.org/top-20/
“Look,” I said happily, “I’m number 9.” But Kevin Ochsner seemed proud to beat me at number 8. Others strained to find their own names on the list.
Oscar Wilde once said: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Shhh…. Don’t tell anyone but — I was the first to nominate my experiment for the replication top-20 list.