Taking on the challenges of replication in psychological science

Posted By News On November 8, 2012 - 10:00pm

Psychological science has come of age. But the rights of a mature discipline carry with them responsibilities, among them the responsibility to maximize confidence in our findings through good data practices and replication.

The November issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), reflects the discipline's ongoing commitment to examine methodological issues that affect all areas of science — such as failures to replicate previous findings and problems of bias and error — with the goal of strengthening our discipline and contributing to the discussion that is taking place throughout science.

The issue features two special sections: one on replicability and one on research methods.

The special section on replicability brings together articles that examine the extent, causes, and solutions to some of the challenges faced by psychological science with regard to replication of research. The first nine articles in the section focus on diagnosing the problems within psychological science, while the next six articles discuss potential solutions. The aim of this special section is not to provide definitive answers, but to promote discussion and collective action to strengthen our science.

"We hope that the articles in this special section will not only be stimulating and pleasurable to read, but that they will also promote much wider discussion and, ultimately, collective actions that we can take to make our science more reliable and more reputable," write the section editors Harold Pashler of the University of California, San Diego and Eric-Jan Wagenmakers of the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

The special section on research methods features articles that examine various aspects of research methodology, including the problem of false negatives and different approaches to detecting fraud. The section also includes a report on the goals, structure, and state of the Reproducibility Project from the Open Science Collaboration and a tongue-in-cheek take on questionable research practices in psychological science.

Because these topics are so important and so central to the scientific enterprise, APS is making the entire issue available to non-subscribers free for three months.

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