The Surrey Reproducibility Society is made up of students and staff who meet once a fortnight to explore issues relating to open research and engage in presentations and training sessions aimed at helping all members of the University implement best practice research methods. RepreoducibiliTea journal club sessions take place at least once a month and help to facilitate further development of our understanding of open, reproducible and transparent research.
Before my first ReproducibiliTea meeting, I wasn’t entirely sure what open research was. The replication crisis was mentioned on my course, and I understood that not all research was good research, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Now, despite joining the society just 3 months ago, I can explain the main open research principles, identify both good and bad practice and I have a much better grasp of where research, especially psychological research, sits in today’s research climate. I’m even working on a project exploring undergraduate’s understanding of open research as part of my placement as a research assistant.
Attending these meetings has been invaluable, not only by helping me in a practical sense, such as walking me through Registered Reports and preregistrations, but it has also influenced how I view research more generally. Many questionable research practices have been discussed in the group. For some of these, I was completely unaware of these practices before joining the society, for others, what’s worse is that I was aware of the practices and saw no harm in them. The sessions have really improved my understanding of what good research practice is.
I think that the ReproducibiliTea meetings are a great resource for both established researchers and students, allowing us to question what the norms in our field are, and whether these norms are best practice. By getting researchers and students involved in these meetings, we can start talking about immediate change in research and we can introduce a new generation of researchers to open research methods. Not every student will become a researcher, but every future researcher will have been a student, and so the discussion around good practice needs to include students too. The Surrey Reproducibility Society is an excellent arena for this kind of inclusive discussion where researchers at different levels of their career discuss these ideas together. As a student, being able to discuss these issues alongside established researchers has been really valuable.
The issue of reproducibility and ‘good science’ is a complex one, but with the growing awareness of practices such as registered reports and preregistration, I think positive changes are coming. ReproducibiliTea increases this awareness, and I hope it inspires future researchers to do better, it has definitely inspired me.
Ashley Williams is an undergraduate psychology student at the University of Surrey, currently undertaking a placement within the CoGDeV Lab, and has been a ReproducibiliTea member for 3 months.