Auxiliary Turtles All the Way Down

The path from theory to study consists of a thousand decisions, big and small. How and how much do these decisions matter? We discuss a recent crowdsourced meta-study that tried to find out. Fifteen teams of researchers were given 5 different hypotheses and told to design a study to test them, then they ran all the studies and got widely varying results. What are the implications of this study for how we should think about the role of theory in study design? What does it say about the different functions of direct and conceptual replications? Is this evidence of hidden moderators? How predictable were the differences in results, and were they predictable because of differences in the study designers’ expertise, biases, or something else? Plus: We answer a letter about getting scooped on a systematic review.

Links:

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 75. It was recorded on January 30, 2020.

The Expertise of Death

How important is expertise in conducting replications? Many Labs 4 was a large, multi-lab effort that brought together 21 labs, running 2,220 subjects, to study that question. The goal was to compare replications with and without the involvement of the original authors to see if that made a difference. But things got complicated when the effect they chose to study – the mortality salience effect that is a cornerstone of terror management theory – could not be replicated by anyone. In this episode, we talk about the implications of Many Labs 4. What does and doesn’t this study say about the importance of expertise and “secret sauce” in conducting replications? Should we necessarily expect that the effect of expertise is to make effects larger or more likely to replicate? What does this replication mean for terror management theory, which has been the focus of hundreds of studies and a 2010 meta-analysis that concluded that mortality salience effects are real and substantial? What place does terror management theory hold in the history of social psychology, and how is that similar or different from ego depletion, another theory that was supported by a meta-analysis but not by multi-lab replications? Plus: we answer a letter about weaponizing tenure if you get it.

Links:

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 74. It was recorded on January 22, 2020.

Going Off the Record

The Graduate Record Exam – the GRE – is widely used in graduate school admissions. In recent years however, a number of graduate programs, including a few in psychology, have stopped requiring it in a movement that has been dubbed “GRExit.” In this episode we discuss the arguments around using the GRE in graduate admissions. What is the evidence for and against its validity? For and against the presence of bias against various groups? How much do we know about validity and bias in the other materials routinely considered in admission, like grades, undergraduate institution, research experience, and letters of recommendation? Are arguments over the GRE just a proxy for larger and more difficult arguments about the purpose and social value of graduate education? And for programs that are dropping the GRE, what are they doing instead, and how will we know what the effects of that are? Plus: we answer a letter about giving authorship to undergrads who made minimal contributions to a project in order to help them get into grad school. 

Links:

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 73. It was recorded on January 6, 2020.

The Year 2019 in Review

In our annual end-of-year episode, we talk about noteworthy reflections and events from the year that just passed. Alexa reflects on breakups, and wonders why we don’t take them more seriously as a significant disruption to other people’s lives. Sanjay talks about hitting a low point and deciding to finally do something about it. And Simine talks about starting a new relationship and finding a new job that will take her halfway around the world. Plus: we answer a letter about whether scientists should mix advocacy and science.

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 72. It was recorded on December 10, 2019.

Letting Loose Your Inner Reviewer Two

Peer review is a major part of how science works today. In this episode we talk about how we approach doing peer reviews. How do you distinguish between differences in approach or preference – “I would have done it a different way” – versus things that you should treat as objections? How much weight do you put on different considerations – the importance of the research question, the novelty, the theory, the methods, the results, and other factors? What’s your actual process – do you read front-to-back, or jump around? How much do you edit and wordsmith your reviews? When there are appendices, supplements, open code and materials, and preregistrations, which things do you read and how do you factor them in? How do you think about your potential biases and how to mitigate them? Plus: We answer a letter about deciding whether to pursue a postdoc versus other options.

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 71. It was recorded on December 6, 2019.

Doctorpiece Theater

To get your PhD you have to do a dissertation. For some this is an important product that demonstrates your ability to produce original research. To others, it’s a vestigial ritual and a waste of time on the way to becoming a productive scholar. In this episode we discuss dissertations – what they’ve been in the past, what they are today, and where they might go in the future. Is a dissertation necessary for the kinds of work that someone might do with a PhD? As graduate training has evolved, how well has the dissertation kept up? Are oral defenses a valuable part of the process or an elaborate hazing ritual? Are they better if they’re public, private, or don’t happen at all? And most importantly, should all defenses involve swords? Plus: We discuss a letter about escaping from a toxic and abusive advisor.

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 70. It was recorded on November 20, 2019.

The Last Straw

Speaking up about injustice and bad behavior in a professional setting – as a witness, or as the target of it – is hard. It’s uncomfortable, it’s difficult, and it can generate backlash and other risks for yourself and your career. In this episode, we talk about that moment when people finally decide to say something or do something. Simine shares the story of how she decided to go on the record about being groped at a conference – what brought her to that decision, and what happened as a result. And we talk about other cases of people speaking up about harassment, discrimination, professional misconduct, and more, including Jennifer Freyd’s pay discrimination lawsuit against the University of Oregon. We talk about the burden of knowing something is wrong, how this dilemma often falls disproportionately on people who are vulnerable in other ways, and what factors can help somebody speak out. Plus: we respond to a letter about department leaders who are obsessed with bean-counting of grant dollars and impact factors.

Links:

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 69. It was recorded on October 30, 2019.

Talk the Talk

Academics give a lot of talks. Job talks, conference talks, colloquium talks, brownbag talks, pub talks. In this episode we talk about talks. How do you approach different audiences and formats? How do you manage a format or audience where interrupting with questions is the norm? How, and how much, do you prepare for different kinds of talks? How do you handle nerves when the stakes feel high? We share some of our own observations and experiences about giving academic presentations. Plus: We answer a letter about how “alt-acs” are perceived within academia.

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 68. It was recorded on October 16, 2019.

Everybody Act Normal

Scientists have to follow a lot of rules. We have IRB rules, journal submission rules, university rules – lots of rules. But some of the most important rules in science aren’t rules at all – they are norms. Guiding principles that shape the work we do. In this episode, we discuss a classic paper by the sociologist Robert Merton on 4 norms that govern scientific work. Are these norms an expression of scientific values, or just a means to an end? How well do scientists follow them, individually or collectively? Is science doing as well today as Merton thought it was back in 1942 – and is following these norms really the way to make science work right? Plus: We answer a letter about question to ask a prospective PhD advisor.

Links:

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 67. It was recorded on October 8, 2019.

For the Lulz

In a previous episode we talked about making small talk in academic life and in general. In this episode we continue the theme, taking a break from our usual Very Serious Topics to answer the ultimate small-talk question: What do you do for fun? We talk about what a week in our lives is like outside of work. How do we spend time when we’re not “on the clock”? What is the right amount of socializing? (spoiler: not everybody has the same answer) How do our hobbies and avocations reflect back on our work – or give us a break from it? Plus: A letter about getting a mystifying cold shoulder from a senior colleague.

The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at www.theblackgoatpodcast.com, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at facebook.com/blackgoatpod/, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at letters@theblackgoatpodcast.com. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on freemusicarchive.org under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 66. It was recorded on September 27, 2019.