How misconduct helped psychological science to thrive

“Despite this history, before Stapel, researchers were broadly unaware of these problems or dismissed them as inconsequential. Some months before the case became public, a concerned colleague and I proposed to create an archive that would preserve the data collected by researchers in our department, to ensure reproducibility and reuse. A council of prominent colleagues dismissed our proposal on the basis that competing departments had no similar plans. Reasonable suggestions that we made to promote data sharing were dismissed on the unfounded grounds that psychology data sets can never be safely anonymized and would be misused out of jealousy, to attack well-meaning researchers. And I learnt about at least one serious attempt by senior researchers to have me disinvited from holding a workshop for young researchers because it was too critical of suboptimal practices….

Much of the advocacy and awareness has been driven by early-career researchers. Recent cases show how preregistering studies, replication, publishing negative results, and sharing code, materials and data can both empower the self-corrective mechanisms of science and deter questionable research practices and misconduct….

For these changes to stick and spread, they must become systemic. We need tenure committees to reward practices such as sharing data and publishing rigorous studies that have less-than-exciting outcomes. Grant committees and journals should require preregistration or explanations of why it is not warranted. Grant-programme officers should be charged with checking that data are made available in accordance with mandates, and PhD committees should demand that results are verifiable. And we need to strengthen a culture in which top research is rigorous and trustworthy, as well as creative and exciting….”

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