“With our shared focus on rigorous science and improving norms for publishing practices, and an increasing cross-over of people involved with both, it feels natural to formally affiliate Collabra: Psychology and SIPS. Both entities’ missions are amplified by this collaboration.”
Simine Vazire, UC Davis, and Chair, SIPS Executive Committee also says of the partnership:
“We are thrilled that Collabra: Psychology will be the official journal of the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science. This joint project will be vital to helping us fulfill our mission. Collabra: Psychology provides an outlet for psychological research that exemplifies the values of SIPS, and presents an opportunity for SIPS to help change norms and incentives in the field of psychology .”
Collabra: Psychology and SIPS are excited to unite in a shared mission to improve psychological science, and scholarly communications broadly, through policies that support transparency, openness, diversity, and rigorous, ethical scientific research practices. To learn more about how Collabra: Psychology currently reinforces these values, check out our website at collabra.org.
As part of our “Tools of the Trade” blog series this summer, we’re here to help you further your own research by providing the resources you need to focus on your scholarship, write—or rewrite—your work, and prepare your work for publication.
Regardless of the discipline, the quality of one’s research is only as sound as the manner in which it was conducted. That’s why our Open Access journal, Collabra: Psychology, has an entire section dedicated to the study of Methodology and Research Practice in Psychology. For those conducting research this summer—and especially those in psychological fields—we’ve rounded up the following articles to help inform your own methodological approaches, data transparency, and replicability practices.
Making Your Research Transparent (Unlike a Car Salesperson!)
When consumers of science (readers and reviewers) lack relevant details about the study design, data, and analyses, they cannot adequately evaluate the strength of a scientific study. A car whose carburetor is duct-taped to the rest of the car might work perfectly fine, but the buyer has a right to know about the duct-taping. Without high levels of transparency in scientific publications, consumers of scientific manuscripts are in a similar position as buyers of used cars – they cannot reliably tell the difference between lemons and high quality findings. The solution is to increase transparency and give consumers of scientific research the information they need to accurately evaluate research. Transparency also encourages researchers to be more careful in how they conduct their studies and write up their results.
In recent years, there has been a growing concern regarding the replicability of findings in psychology, including a mounting number of prominent findings that have failed to replicate via high-powered independent replication attempts. In the face of this replicability “crisis of confidence”, several initiatives have been implemented to increase the reliability of empirical findings. In the current article, LeBel proposes a new replication norm that aims to further boost the dependability of findings in psychology. Paralleling the extant social norm that researchers should peer review about three times as many articles that they themselves publish per year, the new replication norm states that researchers should aim to independently replicate important findings in their own research areas in proportion to the number of original studies they themselves publish per year (e.g., a 4:1 original-to-replication studies ratio).
Giving Due Attention to the Pitfalls of False Negatives
The concern for false positives has overshadowed the concern for false negatives in the recent debates in psychology. This might be unwarranted, since reported statistically nonsignificant findings may just be “too good to be false.” This article examines evidence for false negatives in nonsignificant results in three different ways, arguing that the failure to address false negatives can lead to a waste of research resources and stifle the scientific discovery process.
Leaving a child unattended is considered taboo in today’s intensive parenting atmosphere, despite evidence that American children are safer than ever. So why are parents denying their children the same freedom and independence that they themselves enjoyed as children? A new study by University of California, Irvine social scientists suggests that our fears of leaving children alone have become systematically exaggerated in recent decades – not because the practice has become more dangerous, but because it has become socially unacceptable.
“Without realizing it, we have consistently increased our estimates of the amount of danger facing children left alone in order to better justify or rationalize the moral disapproval we feel toward parents who violate this relatively new social norm,” said Ashley Thomas, cognitive sciences graduate student and lead author of the work, published online this month in the open-access journal Collabra.
The survey-based study found that children whose parents left them alone on purpose – to go to work, help out a charity, relax or meet an illicit lover – were perceived to be in greater danger than those whose parents were involuntarily separated from them.
The researchers presented survey participants with five different scenarios in which a child was left alone for less than an hour. Situations ranged from a 10-month-old who was left asleep for 15 minutes in a cool car parked in a gym’s underground garage to an 8-year-old reading a book alone at a coffee shop a block from home for 45-minutes.
“Within a given scenario, the only thing that varied was the reason for the parent’s absence,” said Kyle Stanford, professor and chair of logic & philosophy of science. “These included an unintentional absence – caused by a fictitious accident in which the mother was hit by a car and briefly knocked unconscious – and four that were planned: leaving for work, volunteering for a charity, relaxing or meeting an illicit lover. After reading each scenario and the reason behind each child being left alone, the participants ranked on a scale of 1 to 10 how much estimated danger the child was in while the parent was gone, 10 being the most risk.”
Overall, survey participants saw all of these situations as quite dangerous for children: The average risk estimate was 6.99, and the most common ranking in all scenarios was 10. Despite identical descriptions of each set of circumstances in which children were alone, those left alone on purpose were estimated to be in greater danger than those whose parents left them alone unintentionally.
“In fact, children left alone on purpose are almost certainly safer than those left alone by accident, because parents can take steps to make the situation safer, like giving the child a phone or reviewing safety rules,” said Barbara Sarnecka, study co-author and associate professor of cognitive sciences. “The fact that people make the opposite judgment strongly suggests that they morally disapprove of parents who leave their children alone, and that disapproval inflates their estimate of the risk.”
This is also borne out in participants’ view of children left alone by a parent meeting an illicit lover as being in significantly more danger than children left alone in precisely the same circumstances by a parent who leaves in order to work, volunteer for charity or just relax.
In scenarios where participants were asked to judge not only how much danger the child was facing, but also whether the mother had done something morally wrong, researchers expected the perceived risk ranking to be lower.
“We thought giving people an alternative way to express their disapproval of the parent’s action would reduce the extent to which moral judgments influenced perceptions of risk,” Thomas said. “But just the opposite happened. When people gave an explicit judgment about the parent’s conduct, estimates of risk to the child were even more inflated by moral disapproval of the parent’s reason for leaving.”
In fact, people’s risk estimates closely followed their judgments of whether mothers in the scenarios had done something morally wrong. Even parents who left children alone involuntarily were not held morally blameless, receiving an average “moral wrongness” judgment of 3.05 on a 10-point scale.
The authors found another interesting pattern when they replaced mothers in the stories with fathers: For fathers – but not mothers – a work-related absence was treated more like an involuntary absence. This difference could stem from the view that work is more obligatory and less of a voluntary choice for men.
“Exaggerating the risks of allowing children some unsupervised time has significant costs besides the loss of children’s independence, freedom and opportunity to learn how to solve problems on their own,” Sarnecka said. “As people have adopted the idea that children must never be alone, parents increasingly face the possibility of arrest, charges of abuse or neglect, and even incarceration for allowing their children to play in parks, walk to school or wait in a car for a few minutes without them.”
University of California Press is pleased to announce a new partnership with Kudos, a web-based service that helps researchers maximize the visibility and impact of their work. “Giving voice, reach, and impact to our authors is at the core of our mission,” notes UC Press Director Alison Mudditt. “Leveraging Kudos’ author and publisher tools helps advance this mission by making the important work of our authors more discoverable and impactful.”
Kudos provides a platform for authors to broaden the readership of their research by enabling authors to explain their work in plain language, enrich their content with links to related resources, and share their article through email, web, and social media, while directly mapping these efforts against views, downloads, altmetrics, and citations. A recent study by Nanyang Technological University shows that when people use the Kudos toolkit, they increase the full text downloads of their work by 23%.