Jan. 21, 2019

International group aims to improve research methods in kinesiology

UCalgary postdoc looks to connect with early career researchers who are curious about more transparent practices

About 10 kinesiology researchers from universities around the world have come together to encourage colleagues to use better research practices, a move that will improve individual study results as well as the overall science in the field. The new Society for Transparency, Openness, and Replication in Kinesiology — STORK — will provide information and other supports to help scholars learn about and start adopting more rigorous research practices.

“Overall there is a huge gap in awareness of what questionable research practices even are and certainly what the potential solutions are,” says Dr. Rosie Twomey, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary and chair of STORK’s Early Career Researcher Committee. “I think there is some naiveté. People can take small steps to make big improvements.”

Anyone interested in improving kinesiology research is encouraged to join STORK. “Whether you’re an educator, coach, practitioner, researcher, student, athlete or consumer of science, you’re welcome here,” says Dr. John Mills, PhD, executive chair of STORK and lecturer in sport psychology and coaching at the University of Essex. “We want to come together to strengthen our knowledge of sport, exercise, health and rehabilitation sciences.”

So far, STORK has published a paper calling for more transparent research practices and the group plans to survey people in sport and exercise science about attitudes on research practices. It will make the case for prioritizing “research quality over publication quantity” and encourage researchers to start pre-registration of study protocols, open sharing of data and working documents for discussion.

“Following these practices makes your science better by increasing the credibility of your results,” says Twomey, who studies exercise interventions in cancer patients. “One of the reasons this is needed is because of the replication crisis in closely related fields such as psychology. The results of many scientific studies are difficult or impossible to replicate.”

STORK is working with the Open Science Framework and SportRχiv to provide infrastructure for scholars to share and discuss study protocols, analysis code and other materials. It will promote alternative ways of publishing research to remove cost-prohibitive barriers to accessing research and encourage frank evaluation of research practices.

“Science is only self-correcting when we are able to critically evaluate the way research is conducted,” says Mills. “The quality of research and the confidence in our knowledge can be improved by scrutinizing current practices in our field and by offering more rigorous alternatives.”

Twomey hopes to connect with early career researchers (including grad students and postdocs) within the faculty who are curious about and interested in more transparent research practices. She invites graduate students, postdocs and faculty to get in touch by emailing rosemary.twomey@ucalgary.ca .