Contact: Alan Burns
STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State Universityâs Social Relations Collaborative is part of a large psychology reproducibility study published this past week in Science magazine.
The SRC, a unit of MSUâs nationally recognized Social Science Research Center, participated in the global endeavor that sought to replicate 100 findings published in three prominent psychology journals. The results of this review study appeared in the Aug. 28 issue of Science.
The collaborative is led by Colleen Sinclair, associate psychology professor, and Rebecca Goldberg, assistant counseling and educational psychology professor. They are assisted by undergraduate students Mallorie Miller, Taylor Ritchey, Emily Bullard, Jeri Champion, Mitchell Gressett. Graduate students include Sining Wu, Dominique Simmons, Jessi Dillingham and Chelsey Hess.
The study, which includes a replication conducted at Mississippi State, was conducted by 270 researchers on five continents and attempted to address one of the four tenets of the Scientific Method, reproducibility.
âI was always taught that the four central tenets of Scientific Method were falsifiability, measurability, generalizability, and reproducibility,â Sinclair said. âNeglecting the latter seems like building a table with only three legs.â
The results of the study show that the independent researchers were able to replicate less than half of the original findings. This result may call into question the validity of some scientific findings, but may also point to the difficulty of conducting effective replications and achieving reproducible results.
âWe believe that replication is indeed a unique contribution to current professional literature and should be viewed as such,â said Goldberg. âThere are certain journal editors who do not care to publish replication projects and certain social scientists who think that replication is unnecessary; however we stand behind reproducibility as being necessary for social science and providing unique contributions.â
The article goes beyond simply calculating an initial estimate of the rate of reproducibility in psychology. It also identifies indices by which reliability studies might be predicted; including the effect size and size of the p-value.
While less than half of the original findings were replicated, it is important to note that a failure to reproduce does not necessarily mean the original report was incorrect. These results should also not be taken as evidence of psychology as a poor science.
âRather, the fact that we are engaging in this self-examination shows that science is working as it should,â Sinclair said. âValidation of findings should not stop at publication. We need to test, and we need to retest.â
Failure to replicate could be due to three basic reasons. First, though most replication teams worked with the original authors to use the same materials and methods, small differences in when, where or how the replication was carried out might have influenced results. Second, the replication might have failed, by chance, to detect the original result. Lastly, the original result might have been a false positive.
âOpen science is critical to the future of research; our ultimate goal is to increase transparency in science and the benefits therein can have great impact on social science in particular,â Goldberg said.
The Social Relations Collaborative has been an integral part of this ongoing program studying reproducibility. This special issue details the involvement of the SRC in the first phase of the Reproducibility Project. The Social Relations Collaborative plans to continue work to improve openness and reproducibility within psychology. The SRC has joined another collaboration with the Center for Open Science examining some of the practices certain journals have already put in place to improve transparency in research.
Also, to complement their participation in the broad-and-shallow method of testing reproducibility (i.e., many labs individually testing separate studies) employed by the present Science publication, the SRC has also joined forces with the Association for Psychological Science to use a more narrow-and-deep approach (i.e., 10 labs testing one study).
âWe believe science is at its best when collaborative and open. We look forward to further representing Mississippi State as a part of this movement to reinforce the integrity of science,â said Sinclair.
For more information on the SRC, please visit http://advancedsocialpsychlab.weebly.com/. Sinclair can be reached at 662-325-9166.
STARKVILLE, Miss. â During three post-event meetings with senior administration officials, the Crisis Action Team and law enforcement, Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum today announced a new initiative designed to enhance the safety and security of the institution in the wake of last weekâs active shooter scare on MSUâs Starkville campus.
âAs I said last week, there were no guns, no shots fired and no injuries,â said Keenum. âOur university was very fortunate that last weekâs event turned out to be threats by a lone individual, but the very real threat of an active shooter on our campus has shown us ways that we can make our campus even safer from and more responsive to such dangers.â
After the incident, Keenum praised campus and local law enforcement for their âswift responseâ in apprehending a student who made threats to harm himself and others.
During a meeting on Friday [Aug. 28], Keenum challenged MSUâs Crisis Action Team, the Division of Student Affairs, and other senior administrators to learn from the event and develop new strategies to enhance the universityâs security.
Subsequent meetings were held Monday [Aug. 31] between the MSU president and the universityâs vice presidents. University leaders also met again Monday afternoon with area law enforcement agencies to seek their input.
Keenum asked all involved for input and innovation from all the groups on three primary initiatives â training, locks, and communications â what he called âTLC.â
âSome of these TLC enhancements will be immediate and some will require additional study. But by addressing additional training for MSU faculty, staff, and students, we can become safer and more efficient in our response,â said Keenum. âThis event showed us areas where we need additional locks and better ways to block or barricade interior doors. Finally, we need to take a hard look at new and emerging technologies that will improve how we communicate Maroon Alert emergency messages and how law enforcement communicates with each other and with us.â
University officials agreed the TLC security enhancements should be systematic in nature and undertaken in conjunction with state and federal emergency preparedness guidelines, also with the approval of the local and state fire marshals.
âThe highest priority I have as president of this university is the safety of our students, faculty and staff,â said Keenum. âWe are always, always going to err on the side of caution in protecting our most precious resource â our people.â
At approximately 10:30 a.m. Thursday, law enforcement officials at Mississippi State arrested a student near McCool Hall that had been described as a danger to himself and others. The student subsequently withdrew from MSU and was transported to a treatment facility in Jackson.
The incident transpired after a telephone to MSU Police from the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol revealed that a student on the Starkville campus was both threatening suicide and threatening to harm others.
After MSU issued a âMaroon Alertâ notice at 10:16 a.m., the individual was taken into custody 10 minutes later. Chief Vance Rice said the MSU Police Department deeply appreciated federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that had responded immediately and assisted in arresting the student.
Assisting agencies included the Oktibbeha County Sheriffâs Office, the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol, Starkville Police Department, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi Department of Health, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Classes resumed under normal conditions at 2 p.m. Thursday.
MSU is Mississippiâs flagship research university, available online at www.msstate.edu.