LMU psychologist among awardees
LMU psychologist Dr. Felix Schönbrodt is among the 10 winners of the Leamer-Rosenthal Prize for Open Social Science 2016, which is awarded by the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS).
The Leamer-Rosenthal Prize for Open Social Science is awarded to scholars who have made noteworthy contributions to enhancing the transparency of research methodology and the replicability of research findings specifically in the social sciences. The jury selected Felix Schönbrodt for the Prize in recognition of his leading role in the formulation of guidelines and online tools for transparent methods of data management. In addition, the citation specifically mentions the Commitment to Research Transparency initiated by the Department of Psychology at LMU and since signed by 105 researchers at 65 research institutions worldwide.
In recent years, a number of cases of the falsification of research data, the use of inappropriate statistical methods and errors in data processing, as well as failed attempts by independent research groups to replicate reported findings, have made headlines. “The prevailing incentive and reward system in academic research has produced a culture in which scholars are encouraged to publish as much as possible, as quickly and as prominently as possible -- and the findings should be as spectacular as possible,” says Professor Markus Maier, the current Managing Director of LMU’s Department of Psychology. “But the first duty of the excellent researcher is to ensure that published data are correct and reproducible.”
In light of this situation, scientific societies and organizations have been demanding for years now that primary data and research findings obtained in the course of publicly funded projects should be made available to other researchers as soon as possible -- not only to facilitate their replication, but also to permit further investigations of their implications. In collaboration with the Governing Board of the German Psychological Society (DGPs), Felix Schönbrodt has led efforts to formulate and implement guidelines for research transparency in the field of psychology. “These guidelines are based on the idea that research should be an open and transparent endeavor, whose findings can withstand rigorous testing, and are therefore reliable and trustworthy,” he says.
“Since the establishment of a Committee on Open Science at the Department of Psychology, we have taken significant steps on the way to making Psychology a more transparent and truly reproducible science,” states Professor Markus Bühner, who has actively supported the realization of the recommended measures. For example, advertisements for faculty positions now include the requirement that candidates explicitly detail their own efforts to enhance the transparency and facilitate independent replication of their work. Furthermore, the Department’s system for distribution of grant resources has been remodeled to include bonus points for those who make primary data and supporting material openly available, and register planned studies in advance. This effectively means that transparency pays off in practical terms.
“At a time when the term ‘post-factual’ has emerged as the word that best characterizes the past year, and debates on fake news have become an integral part of the real news, it is imperative that we raise the level of trust in scientific research and its findings,” says Felix Schönbrodt. “The scientific method forms the basis for the discovery of valid and verifiable knowledge. Research institutions have a responsibility to strengthen public recognition and acceptance of this fundamental principle by insisting on rigorous standards of quality in scientific research, and these include a commitment to transparency and reproducibility. The social utility -- and indeed the very legitimacy – of scientific research depend on trust in its reliability.