The field of psychology has been profoundly impacted by the replication and reproducibility crises – which unearthed many issues in the way psychological science is conducted (if you are unfamiliar or want to refresh your knowledge, Galetzka, 2019, offers a short summary).
As a reaction to these issues, many initiatives across the world are now trying to implement changes in our research culture – changes that are usually referred to under the umbrella term “Open Science”.
One of the fundamental characteristics is that many of these initiatives are lead by young researchers eager to do the best research they can. These are mostly PhD students or PostDocs, but under-/graduate students often lead, too.
We at JEPS share these convictions as well and try to promote Open Science principles, for instance by offering Registered Reports or informing students through our JEPS Ambassadors.
But more importantly, we are glad to be joined by other students’ initiatives with the same goals – which we would like to present to you in our ongoing series “Open Science Bottom Up”. Last time, we presented you OSIP and their work they do across Germany – check out our interview.
Now, we got together with Myrthe Veenman, Karoline Huth, Lea Schuhmacher, and Maike Dahrendorf from the University of Amsterdam.
The four founded SIOS, the Student Initiative for Open Science – as they describe it: a home for “students with a passion for Open Science”.
The SIOS founders at their inaugural lecture with Sophia Crüwell
Thank you very much for joining us!
First up: could you please introduce yourself to our fellow students?
Myrthe: I am a Research Master student in Psychology at the University of Amsterdam, with a focus on psychological methods. The University of Amsterdam has an interesting psychological methods department, including network analysis and Bayesian inference, and is really supportive of Open Science initiatives.
Karoline: I am also a Research Master student in the second year at the University of Amsterdam. I initially studied in Germany but also went on a few exchanges to other universities. It is stunning to see how Open Science is differently valued and implemented across all universities; the University of Amsterdam is definitely a pioneer in the field.
Maike: I’m (also) a research master student at the University of Amsterdam and in my second year. Although I am originally from Germany, I did my undergraduate degree in Scotland before going to Amsterdam. Here, I major in psychological methods and my main interests lie in network analysis, and anything Open Science or MetaScience related.
Lea: Like the others, I am a Research Master student at the University of Amsterdam. My main research interest lies in Developmental Psychopathology and I find it interesting to think about ways in which we can do meaningful research, especially in difficult settings like in psychiatric clinics. In line with this, I became excited about Open Science as it offers practices that can, hopefully, support such meaningful research.
What is SIOS? Would you explain to us what brought you to found it?
Myrthe: SIOS is the Student Initiative for Open Science. The goal is to inform students how science can be made more transparent by Open Science practices. In addition, we want to show students how they can implement Open Science in their study program. To meet this goal, we organize events such as lectures and discussions.
We learned most about Open Science in a course we had in our Masters, called Good Research Practices (preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/gvesh/). In this course, we read the book ‘The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology’ by Chris Chambers. The final chapter provides advice for everyone, except for students. And I, as a student, felt the need to do something as well. I shared this feeling with Lea, Karoline, and Maike, and at a Christmas drink we came up with SIOS.
Karoline: As Myrthe mentioned, we had a very good class covering the replication crisis and Open Science. We understood the need to change research as it is. However, talking to friends outside the masters and discipline we realized that not everyone has heard of it. Universities do not always have the resources to teach such courses, therefore we try to help a little. We believe that with educating students, the future researchers, about Open Science practices, science will be improved in the future. That is why we founded SIOS.
What has happened in SIOS since its foundation?
Maike: We started planning and brainstorming what we want SIOS to be in January of 2019, but didn’t have our first event until March. Our first lecture was a great success which really helped us stay motivated and work even harder to make SIOS as useful and accessible to other students. Until July, we managed to have three lectures on different Open Science related topics and finished off the academic year with a super interesting panel discussion with a few PhD students that all apply Open Science practices in their research. This was by far my favourite event because we heard different perspectives and attitudes towards preregistration/open data etc. while also brainstorming ideas on how students can implement these practices in their university work – and where potential problems lie.
Lea: With the beginning of this new academic year, we suddenly had a large number of new students being interested to join SIOS! We have grown to around 18 people now. Now, we just started working with a structure which facilitates all this manpower and will hopefully allow us to do lectures series, workshops, individual projects (like creating a Student Thesis Preregistration together with the Method Shop at the UvA) as well as supporting students in other disciplines and campuses that would like to spread Open Science among their student community. Therefore, I am really looking forward to what will happen in the coming time.
We talked a lot about how you bring Open Science to students. However, I would like to take a step back and ask: what is Open Science to you and what makes it important?
Myrthe: In science, we want to know how things (or people, in psychology) work. In a way, we want to find the truth. Therefore, it is important to be true to yourself and protect yourself from biases. We, humans, have to admit that we are sensitive to biases as confirmation bias. I think using Open Science practices can help us to be as true as possible.
For me, it also means that everyone has the same possibilities to access materials, as education material and articles. It should not be the case that different universities have access to different papers. This is not beneficial for students, and definitely not for science.
Karoline: Too often, and mostly unintentionally, researchers apply questionable research practices. Conclusions drawn from questionable research cannot be valid and in the long run prohibit scientific discoveries. Open Science tries to break that cycle by providing researchers with tools to conduct “proper” research. The goal is to break down walls, create transparency and enable collaboration. Open Science can also be seen as a commonly shared moral system among researchers.
To add to that: why do you think Open Science is especially relevant to students? And what are your experiences with engaging in promoting Open Science to other students?
Maike: Open Science is relevant to everyone, in my opinion. But we students are the next generation of researchers and learning the right practices from the beginning is essential. Many students have no idea how questionable research practices impact the literature they read, or the interventions and models they apply. As students, we also have the chance to support senior staff in implementing more open practices as they might want to progress to more transparency but don’t know how to and are short on time to really teach themselves these practices. We can support by, for example, drafting preregistrations and preparing the data files for sharing. Some students mentioned that SIOS helped them to keep Open Science in their minds and not “forget” to apply open practices when things have to happen quickly. Hearing this really shows that we can get more students involved in applying open practices to their own work and making Open Science more approachable for students of all educational stages.
Lea: No matter if they want to become a researcher or proceed in any other profession, I believe that most students come to university to learn reliable information that will help them later in their jobs. However, the replication crisis has shown our current knowledge base is not as reliable we hoped for. Therefore, I think it is highly important to teach students how questionable research practices and mere human biases can negatively impact the reliability of results that we have at the moment. To give them hope as well as possible indicators of more trustworthy results, students should also learn how Open Science can make our knowledge base more reliable. Finally, I find that Open Science helps students from a practical perspective. For example, I think when designing their own (thesis) project, students could greatly learn from similar research that made their study protocol, materials and codes openly available.
Actually, I find, it is a lot of fun to tell students that there is an Open Science movement. I feel that many students have heard about the replication crisis and are quite frustrated by it. In my experience, information on the Open Science movement can decrease this frustration and install hope for the future of science.
Looking forward: what is to come for SIOS? Where would you like to get to with the initiative?
Karoline: I think in the long run we would like to change the curriculum and the whole study experience to the Open Science way. It should start with giving a course/lecture on Open Science, mandatory for all students. Additionally, theses and internships should be conducted in the Open Science way, for example with preregistration and data sharing.
Myrthe: However, we realize this is a long shot. Therefore, we have short term plans as well. We plan to organize workshops, to provide students with some practical skills. Also, we would like to organize events in other cities/at other universities.
And in a broader picture: how do you wish for Open Science to impact academia at large?
Maike: For me, Open Science is the only way to do reliable and trustworthy science. It’s great to see how academia is slowly moving towards more transparency and openness. However, I also believe that there is still a long way to go and that questionable research practices, sadly, are still quite common. Ultimately, it would be amazing if we can reach a new “standard” in research that is characterised by more collaboration, focusing on methods over results and frequent replications for confirmatory studies. This way, we can trust our literature and produce science that can be used to reliably inform policies and interventions.
Lea: Similar to Maike, I would love to see a new standard in research which is characterized my Open Science practices and values. I would even go a step further. I hope that in the (very) long run, Open Science not just impacts academia but also our evidence-based practices. If we can make our evidence stronger and more reliable (by using Open Science practices), then, hopefully, our practices are also better informed.
Do you want to mention anything else in the end?
Maike: When I first properly learned about the replications crisis, I really thought about quitting research. But learning more about Open Science changed my mind and only motivated me to produce the best research that I can. With SIOS, we have the chance to get more students involved and also make more senior researchers aware that we are also part of the process of changing the norm.
Karoline: From my experience, it was surprising to see how many people have not heard of Open Science before, if it is in different disciplines or universities. Once knowing the issue most people are really interested to learn more and apply proper techniques. If you want to spread Open Science at your university, I would highly recommend to try.
Lea: I agree with everything that the others just said. Open Science is a rewarding way to do science and it impacts students more than many think. It is a very exciting time to become involved with Open Science because I feel that the movement is growing and growing and it is amazing to be a part of it.
Myrthe: Hopefully, people reading this get really excited about our initiative and want to start up SIOS at their university. If that is the case, we would love to help you so please feel free to contact us.
Thank you very much for the interview! We are looking forward to what’s in store for you in the future and hope to be collaborating with you on promoting Open Science with students.