Psychologist Honored as Champion of Open Social Science

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Oct. 13, 2017 — Simine Vazire, associate professor of psychology, was named the winner of an international Leamer-Rosenthal Prize for Open Social Science this week.

Vazire was recognized for her efforts to advance reproducibility, openness and credibility in the social sciences—through the courses she teaches at UC Davis and by co-founding the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science.

She was among eight prize recipients, selected from 58 nominees representing an array of social science disciplines in 10 countries.

Vazire will receive the award, which comes with $10,000, during a Dec. 5-6 annual meeting of the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences at the Bancroft Hotel in Berkeley.

Vazire was one of two scholars selected in the prize’s Leaders in Education category. Daniel Lakens, an assistant professor of psychology at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, also won for creating an online course, “Improving Your Statistical Inferences.”

Six other scholars were named “Emerging Researchers” for promoting transparency through their work. They comprise psychologists, a political scientist, a research methodologist, a data scientist and an economist from the American Institutes for Research, Harvard University, United Nations University – MERIT, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside and University of Virginia.

The Leamer-Rosenthal Prize for Open Social Science was created by a group of scientists in 2015 to counter a “credibility crisis” resulting from a series of scandals involving fake results and irreproducible findings.

The Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences, which manages the prize, was established by the UC-wide Center for Effective Global Action in 2012 to strengthen the integrity of social science research and evidence used for policymaking.

A Leader of Open-Science Movement

In 2016, Vazire helped launch the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science with the aim of encouraging open, reproducible science. The society’s president, she is also senior editor of the journal Collabra: Psychology.

“It's human nature to want to be right and look good and make a living,” Vazire said. “Right now there's a lot more reward for finding what you predicted (or predicting what you found) and getting surprising, extraordinary results than for getting results that are robust.”

She teaches courses in research methods, a topic she studies in addition to her work in people's self-knowledge of their own personalities and behaviors.