By Raluca Blujdea
As part of a worldwide initiative called ReproducibiliTea, a new journal club has kicked off at the VU to discuss how the scientific community is moving towards more Open Science practice together.
ReproducibiliTea: how one pun began a movement
At a scientific reproducibility workshop in 2018, Oxford Psychology student, Amy Orben, sent out a cleverly punned tweet about “ReproducibiliTea”. This received encouragement from her followers, giving her and two of her peers the idea to turn the pun into a journal club and podcast.
The aim? To raise awareness of Open Science and its implementation among young researchers. The scientific world is increasingly encouraging Open Science practice and policies, and so it is crucial for researchers to discuss what Open Science means for them and how it can be best applied in their own labs. ReproducibiliTea journal clubs now take place in 20 different countries, bringing young researchers together regularly for open science, tea and snacks.
In January 2020, ReproducibiliTea VU launched in Amsterdam by Master students Emil Uffelmann and Eduarda Centeno (previously featured in VU:Sci). ReproducibiliTea VU is a monthly journal club, welcome to all researchers and students in Amsterdam who wish to participate in the discussions (to sign up, follow this link).
A cup of ReproducibiliTea sounds tempting? Let’s dip first into what Open Science is
“Open science” is an umbrella term consolidating many changes or movements to improve scientific practice across the entire research cycle.
Some of these movements include: open access publishing, open source software for analysis, shared data[sets], teaching materials, preregistration and hardware blueprints. The movement goes a step further to also endorse citizen science for increased public engagement.
The European Union’s FOSTER Open Science initiative defines the overall aim of Open Science as “making research more open to collaboration and cooperation, through increased rigor, accountability, and reproducibility.”
Is reproducibiliTea only about reproducibility?
The name of the journal club first arose from a discussion about research reproducibility, the ability of a field to reproduce scientific findings over time, so that these can eventually be useful in future research or for society. But it evolved into a platform for all the factors under the Open Science umbrella that work towards its goals. During the VU journal club, Masters and PhD students can also raise awareness of the shortcomings in current research, such as how reproducibility practices can be improved upon, registering reports and the challenges brought by unrefined statistical understanding and the replicability crisis.
Is there a lack of reproducibility?
A survey back in 2016 of 1,500 researchers from a number of different scientific fields showed that more than 70% of scientists experienced they had not been able to replicate or reproduce others’ experiments and around 60% were not confident they could repeat their own studies. In the survey, most researchers agreed that better practices, such as sharpening research design, streamlined sharing practices and incentives for repeating and replicating, are all approaches the community can and should take to move forward.
But implementing Open Science goals among scientists or using structural change by governments and funding organizations will likely be met with concerns. Understanding, discussing and tackling these issues together becomes part of integrating change into every day practice. This is what a regular, local journal club like ReproducibliTea can provide.
So, how do you join a VU ReproducibiliTea party?
We meet as a group on campus once a month to discuss an open science themed paper over snacks and borrel (it’s the Dutch way). You can sign up for details of the upcoming meeting via the newsletter and the twitter page.
NOTE: During the COVID-19 restrictions, ReproducibiliTea VU meets virtually over Zoom, once a month. The last journal club was on Thursday, 23rd of April 2020, 4 P.M. CET.
About the writer
Raluca is a second year VU Master of Neurosciences student who is particularly interested in neurological development, neurodegenerative disorders and science communication. She is a participant of ReproducibiliTea VU.