Don van Ravenzwaaij is a psychologist and statistician at the University of Groningen, and an advocate for the proper use of statistical inference in science. He has recently taken the helm of UC Press’s open-access journal Collabra: Psychology as Editor-in-Chief.

UC Press: Congratulations on your new role at Collabra!

Collabra: Psychology Editor-in-Chief Don van Ravenzwaaij

DvR: Thank you Jeff, I am humbled to take the reins of Collabra: Psychology from Simine, I have some pretty big shoes to fill.

UC Press: Of course this is not your first experience with Collabra–you previously served as a Senior Editor for the journal’s Methodology & Research Practice section, and you’re co-author of several Collabra articles, including “When and Why to Replicate: As Easy as 1, 2, 3?” and “Credible Confidence: A Pragmatic View on the Frequentist vs Bayesian Debate.” What has your experience been at Collabra, and why did you decide to take on this new role?

DvR: That’s right, I was the Senior Editor for Methodology & Research Practice for four years, and from the start I’ve really liked the ‘editorial culture’ at Collabra: Psychology. Things like owning your decisions as editor (rather than hiding behind the reviewers), humility in your decision letters (being open to having gotten it wrong), and editing the paper the authors have written instead of the paper you would have liked them to have written. These might seem like open doors, but in my experience many journals in our field do not follow these principles.

As for my decision to take on this role: Simine’s departure came at a time where I felt I had room for a new challenge. Career-wise a number of my PhD students have just graduated or are about to graduate. Private-wise our youngest has just turned three, somewhat reducing the parenting demands on my time.

I think my only regret is that in this position, it will no longer be possible for my students and me to publish in Collabra: Psychology. But it’s a small price to pay really.

UC Press: A lot of your research and action centers around getting the science of psychology right–for example through replications and preregistration of research. Why this emphasis, and why is it important specifically for the field of psychology?

Replication is the bedrock of empirical science. Without it, we are at a loss to diagnose false positive findings.

DvR: For me, a pivotal moment in my career came as a graduate student, I guess around 2010, when I read John Ioannidis’ 2005 paper in which he provides a theoretical argument “why most published research findings are false.” It blew my mind, I had been thinking about the psychological literature in terms of the 5% error rate. You have to remember that this was before the big crisis of confidence revolution hit psychology in 2012, and the awareness of a scientific literature that was potentially riddled with false positives was not as widespread as it is these days. I was doing my PhD in Eric-Jan Wagenmakers’ lab, these days a name synonymous with Bayesian inference in the social sciences, but at the time we were all students of Bayes together. I was attracted to the promise of Bayesian hypothesis testing of getting a firmer handle on what the false positive rate alluded to by John Ioannidis would really be.

A few years after I graduated, a giant initiative came out that aimed to partly answer that question: the Open Science Collaboration (OSC, 2015). The results of this mammoth project are often cited in terms of some number, be it ⅓ or ½, or something in between, of psychological findings that did not replicate. The exact number is less important than the implication, of course: replication is the bedrock of empirical science. Without it, we are at a loss to diagnose false positive findings. My own research, including one of my papers published in Collabra: Psychology, concerns how to prioritize which studies to replicate when resources are scarce (which they always are). Preregistration is similarly a means of combating false positive findings in the literature.

UC Press: Are there any particular research studies (or reviews, or perspectives/opinions) published in Collabra that best exemplify this approach to the science of psychology?

DvR: Absolutely! In the Methodology & Research Practice section we publish perspectives or opinion pieces on replication studies (e.g., Olivier Corneille and Jérémy Béna’s Instruction-based Replication Studies Raise Challenging Questions for Psychological Science); tutorial papers that should facilitate replication (e.g., Olivier Klein et al.’s A Practical Guide for Transparency in Psychological Science); and examinations of informal lab practices (e.g., Jonna Brenninkmeijer, Maarten Derksen and Eric Rietzschel’s Informal Laboratory Practices in Psychology).

In the last five years, Collabra: Psychology has published over 100 empirical replication studies, scattered across all the sections. Many of the original research articles, both replications and non-replications, are preregistered and we have published dozens of registered reports.

UC Press: Any plans you can share regarding your vision for Collabra during your editorial term? What should we look forward to?

DvR: One thing I would like to pitch here is an unconference I hope to host at the next SIPS conference in Nairobi. In this unconference, everybody interested can join a brainstorm session, in which we discuss things they like about the journal and things they would like to see implemented going forward. There are some new things in the works that might see the light of day in the second half of 2024, but there is still a lot of uncertainty around those, so those will be announced in due time!

UC Press: Thanks so much for your work with Collabra, and best wishes for your term as editor-in-chief!

DvR: Thanks Jeff, I feel privileged to take on this role! I hope many will (continue to) contribute to Collabra, either by submitting their work as an author, or by reviewing papers we receive, and of course by reaching out to us with feedback on what goes well and what may be improved.

Collabra: Psychology, the official journal of the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science, is a mission-driven, open-access journal from the University of California Press that shares not only the research it publishes, but also the value created by the psychology community during the peer-review process. Collabra: Psychology has 7 sections representing the broad field of psychology, and a highlighted focus area of “Methodology and Research Practice.”
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