Are most findings in psychology false? An activist’s perspective
Professor James C. Coyne, Professor of Health Psychology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Thursday, 14 May 2015, 12pm to 1pm
Lecture Theatre C, Experimental Psychology
Hosted by Professor Dorothy Bishop
Documented examples of outright fraud increase skepticism about the trustworthiness of what is found in the psychological literature. While outright fraud could be rare, confirmatory bias and flexible rules of design and analysis are rampant and even encouraged by journals seeking newsworthy articles. Efforts at reform meet with considerable resistance and defense of the status quo. This talk will describe the work of one loosely affiliated group to advance reform by focusing attention not only on the quality of the existing literature, but on the social and political processes at the level of editing and reviewing. It will give specific examples of ongoing efforts to dilute the absolute authority of editors and prepublication reviewers, and enforce transparency and greater reliance on post-publication peer review of claims and reanalysis of shared data. Other, formal replication initiatives are occurring in psychology to increase the trustworthiness of the literature. However, though well intended, they may actually serve to deter more basic changes in the institutional support and individual incentives favoring false and exaggerated claims. An alternative policy of direct confrontation with editors and journals and repeat-offender authors and outing of undisclosed conflicts of interest may be needed if change is to be achieved.