Can they be replicated?
In the wake of scandal, psychologists are encouraging
more data sharing and replication studies.
BY LEA WINERMAN • Monitor staff
In psychology, as in other sciences, replication is the gold standard. In theory, new knowledge doesn’t make it into the canon until the studies that produced it have been
verified, independently, by more than one researcher. But in
practice, critics say the field rarely lives up to that ideal —
and the result is a psychological literature rife with findings
that may or may not be true, yet are generally accepted as
Virginia. Now, he and others are leading efforts to increase
replication studies and open up access to data.
Unfortunately, these psychologists say, the incentive
system at work in academic psychology is weighted against
replication: There are no carrots to induce researchers to
reproduce others’ studies, and several sticks to dissuade them.
Among the top problems are that funding agencies aren’t
interested in giving money for direct replication studies
and most journals aren’t interested in publishing them. So
researchers whose careers depend on winning grants and
publishing studies have no incentive to spend time and effort
redoing others’ work.
The solution is to “revalue replication” in psychology, says
Gary VandenBos, PhD, the executive director of APA’s Office
of Publications and Databases. “We need to put a strategy in
place to get departments, journals and funding agencies to
He and the APA Publications and Communications Board