LUBBOCK, TX — Although I’ve been back in Texas now for the better half of three months, I’ve stayed in rather closer contact with my colleages at the National Chengchi University.
One group that I have been working with is the Taiwan Institute for Governance and Communication Research (台灣政經傳播研究中心), or TIGCR. Their group administers some of the most comprehensive datasets on Taiwanese political attitudes, and hosts their data archives online at https://tigcr.nccu.edu.tw/en/?locale. I’d had the opportunity to meet several of their faculty and staff — including one post-doctoral student who had done his graduate work at Washington University in my hometown St. Louis and likewise, was as passionate a St. Louis Cardinals fan as I am today. =)
For a group so committed to transparency, there was a synergy between their work and my own interests in open science practices. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, open science practices refer to a broad suite of behaviors designed to improve the transparency of published research — Klein and colleagues (2018) suggest that when researchers share their study materials, datasets, and other notes, the scientific process moves from one of trust to one of verification.
Working to translate some of these concepts to communication science, I’ve been part of efforts to explain the different types of open science practices and their relative relation to each other …
Merging TIGCR’s interests in scholarly debate with my own experiences as an author and editor towards transparency, I was invited to speak on the evolving standards of science. In thinking about this talk, I’m profoundly aware of how much has already been presented — one manuscript that comes to mind is an influential work from Neil Lewis in Communication Method and Measures. One connection that does come to mind is the notion of change. Especially in my capacity as the former editor of Communication Research Reports and the incoming editor of Journal of Media Psychology, I often found myself explaining or justifying to potential authors why the additional labor associated with transparency could be a benefit for so many of us: readers, reviewers, and science broadly.
I’d never claim a deep knowledge of Greek philosophy — and here, I’ll suggest that I’ve engaged a Western bias in this talk — but I was reminded of some of the doctrines of Heraclitus associated with change, or universal flux. Boiled down, he’s often credited with the phrase change is the only constant in life.
This notion is so critical to science, because it’s a foundation of the modern scientific method. Our hypotheses are designed to be falsifiable such that observing a single contradictory data point can invalidate underlying theories. Scientific process is often not possible without eventually discovering data that contradicts what we “know” and thus, sparking scientific revolutions in thought. Of course we can debate the many different philosophies of science and scholarship, but reflecting on these two notes (one from Popper, one from Kuhn) allow us to accept a bit of what Heraclitus was selling: change is what keeps us busy.
To see the full video presentation, please see the TIGCR-hosted video below.
UPDATE: Following the presentation, I was asked a few questions about open science practices. We’ve reproduced a few of those, below.