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Daring to shift research culture towards more reproducibility and transparency

On 11th June 2020, up to 1000 people from across the globe tuned in to watch a one-day event, The King's Open Research Conference, to hear the latest ideas and findings in Open Research. Why?

A decade of self-inspection has revealed some uncomfortable home-truths about science and research more broadly. Just some include large-scale failed replications, exposés of scientific fraud, and widespread questionable research practices. There are also broader concerns about the culture in which research is conducted, which relentlessly focuses on novelty, the individual, and publication track-records often at the cost of verification, crediting collective effort, and measuring academic worth in the round (Munafò, 2019; Munafò et al., 2017)

In response is the flourishing Open Science (or Research) movement, a set of self-organising initiatives aiming to shift research practices to greater reproducibility and transparency. These practices include but are not limited to sharing data/materials, pre-registration, scholarly outputs via preprints, open peer review, open teaching materials, and apportioning credit in a contributorship framework (Nosek et al., 2012; Nosek & Bar-Anan, 2012; Uhlmann et al., 2019).

The King’s Open Research Conference sought to highlight key factors that undermine advances in research, and how Open Research practices can provide many and varied solutions. The ultimate aim was to show that, with Open Research practices, one can reimagine research culture in a way that is both for the betterment of researchers and for research quality and integrity.

Below are recordings for each of our speakers for your viewing. But, before you watch them, please know that the conference was just one among many (ongoing) projects to engender a culture of Open Research at King’s College London. I founded and co-organise the RIOT Science Club and the King’s Open Research Group Initiative, two successful initiatives that attempt to raise awareness and provide support for rigorous scientific practices from the bottom-up and top-down, respectively. King’s College London has also recently signed up to the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN), a network of UK universities collaborating to promote robust research practices, such as Open Research and reproducibility.

If you would like to know more, please contact myself, Sam Westwood, the UKRN local lead at KCL.

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Scientific fraud and misconduct by Dr Stuart Ritchie

A lecturer at King’s College London, Stuart is one of the early fire-starters of the Open Science movement, who has since established himself to be a versatile researcher. His talk is on scientific fraud and misconduct, which are the subject of his new book Science Fictions: Exposing Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype.

Questionable research practices by Dr Amy Orben

Amy is a research fellow at The University of Cambridge, and is noted for her work on mental health and screen time, for which she has been invited to many public engagements (including the BBC) and has given evidence to inform public policy. Amy is perhaps best known as one of the co-founders of ReproducibiliTea, an inspirational initiative with global reach that aims to engage and support early career researchers in reproducible research practices. She also campaigns and teaches extensively with the goal of moving us away from questionable research practices, which she will cover in her talk.

Publication and citation bias by Prof Dorothy Bishop

Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology is just one of the many achievements Dorothy Bishop can claim. An ardent and astonishingly prolific advocate of transparency and reproducibility (as evidenced by BishopBlog), Dorothy is one of key figures in the UK Reproducibility Network, where she currently sits as chair of the advisory board. Who better than to write a watershed piece about the four horsemen of irreproducibility, one of which — publication and its menacing twin citation bias — is the basis for her presentation.

Research ecosystem and incentives by Prof Marcus Munafo

Bringing the talks by Stuart, Amy, and Dorothy into focus is Marcus Munafo, Professor of Biological Psychology at the University of Bristol. Marcus is a central figure in dealing with the reproducibility crisis by way of addressing its causes (namely inappropriate incentives). Marcus is the lead author on, A manifesto for reproducible science, a compelling call for researchers to make reproducible and transparent research practices standard practice - an ambition that I think we all can (and should) subscribe to.

UK Reproducibility Network by Prof Laura Fortunato

Associate Professor at the University of Oxford and Sante Fe Institute, Laura has a keen interest in the evolution of human social and cultural behaviour, combining anthropology with biology in her work. She has also made significant contributions in teaching effective computing for research reproducibility. Laura is also a member of the Steering Group for the UK Reproducibility Network, which she is about to tell you much more about!

Importance of Registered Reports by Anne Scheel

Anne has been hooked on the “replication crisis” in psychology for some time, switching from infant research to focus on meta-science. A switch we’re all glad she made. A PhD Student under Daniël Lakens’, she is part of the project “Increasing the reliability and efficiency of psychological science” at Eindhoven University of Technology. On any open science topic Anne is an expert, but today she will talk on Registered Reports, which is what I hope to become the default approach to conducting research.

Teaching reproducibility in undergraduates by Dr Kate Button

Kate’s work focuses on the cognitive mechanisms that contribute to common mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. She is also an incredibly useful advocate for the use of rigorous research practices, publishing on statistical power, reliability (or lack of) in experimental research. She sits on several scientific advisory panels, including the steering group for Registered Reports, and is key to developing innovative methods for improving the rigour of undergraduate and taught-masters research projects.

Roundtable discussion

To finish the conference, we hosted a roundtable discussion that had a Question Time style format. The table was furnished with representatives of different initiatives and organisations who, in many and varied ways, have exerted positive change. The panel was designed to open up wider discussion with the audience to see what other approaches are available to foster an Open Research culture. The panel was joined by Lara Speicher (Head of Publishing at UCL Press), Victoria Moody (Research strategy lead at JISC), Ben Bleasdale (Senior Policy & Advocacy Advisor at Wellcome Trust), James Parry (Chief Executive of UK Research Integrity Office), Sam Parsons & Sophia Crüwell (co-founders of ReproducibiliTea).

I would like to finish by making the following thank you’s to those who made this conference possible. Thank you to our funders, NIHR Maudsley BRC, Peter Sowerby Foundation, and the Research Innovation committee, your contribution proved instrumental in making this conference happen! Thank you particularly to those who pledged funds via these organisations, Matthew Hotopf, Alexander Bird, Thalia Eley & Mitul Mehta, respectively.

Thank you to the conference steering group, Chris Albertyn, Dan Crane, Marion Criaud, Paolo Deluca, Adam Pawley. Thank you also for the additional support from KORGI, Olivia Kowalczyk, Sheut-Ling Lam, Alexandra Lautarescu, Robin Maginn, and Hannah Warren. To the AV Team, especially Trevor Brooks and Nicholas Fellows, thank you for your patience and assistance. Finally, a special thank you to Marion Criaud and Sheut-Ling Lam

In this story

Samuel Westwood

Samuel Westwood

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Stuart Ritchie

Stuart Ritchie


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