Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - RMZ

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | RMZ | Research Activities | Replication as a Social Movement

Replication as a Social Movement: A Cartography of (international) Replication Initiatives in the Behavioral, Social, and Cognitive Sciences

(04/2023 - 03/2026)




The replicability of research has been a central concern for methodological standards in many research fields. The current „replication crisis“ shares many of the concerns of older debates and promises to improve research practices across different fields by clarifying replicability as a concept and by updating methodological standards to an increasingly interdisciplinary and digital research environment. However, the current efforts to improve replicability have grown to a level that surpasses earlier debates: Concerns are no longer confined to specific fields, but have become cross-disciplinary. Debates even extend to a larger public through mass media. But most importantly, debates have lead to action, with an increasing number of actual attempts at replicating studies and publishing the results. It is these replication initiatives that will be the primary object of study.

Replication studies are a central part of what many are seeing not just as contributions to improving research quality within a specific field but as a new, crossdisciplinary field of research sometimes called „replication science“ or „meta research“.  In line with previous research in science studies about emerging research fields we conceptualize replication initiatives as a social movement. Emerging research fields not only require new research questions, methods, or concepts, but also activism and institutional work to found new journals, new associations, new study programmes, etc. Conceputalizing replication science as a social movement, thus, allows for capturing the epistemic aspects (questions, methods, concepts) alongside with the institutional (collaboration, organisation, funding).

The project will collect information on all replication initiatives in the social, behavioral and cognitive sciences and provide a „cartography“ of the field. To survey their epistemic and institutional properties, two main data sources will be used: published materials from these initiatives (papers, protocols, websites, etc.)  and in-depth, qualitative interviews with participating researchers. These will be analyzed in three methodological steps – literature review, content-analysis, and neopragmatic discourse analysis – by focussing on argumentative structure and institutional structure. The contribution will be three-fold: First, the cartography will provide an overview of the field. Second, the discourse analysis will contribute a case study to the science studies of emerging research fields. The case of replication initiatives and replication science holds a strategic (theoretical) relevance for this literature, as its claim to be „meta“ suggests an unusual case where an emerging research field is not inter- but transdisciplinary. Third, the analysis will provide information to researchers in the field of replication science e.g. about commonalities and differences in replication concepts and methodologies to improve replication designs and institutional work as a social movement.


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