Open Update

Interview transcript - Tamarinde Haven (Open Update)

In: Open Update

This is a transcript of the interview with Tamarinde Have (Season 2, Episode 5). Listen to the podcast on Anchor. The transcript is slightly edited for readability and available under a CC0 Public Domain Dedication.


Chris Hartgerink: Welcome to the second season of the Open Update. For Liberate Science, I'm your host, Chris Hartgerink. In this season we interviewed 10 guests over the course of nine weeks about the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science.

This is week five, and we talk about what it means to them, their work and the future of research so that we can better understand what it means to us, our work and our future in research.

Joining us is Dr. Tamarinde Haven. She is a postdoc at the QUEST Center for Responsible Research in Berlin, and she received her dissertation from the Free University Amsterdam for her work on responsible research climates. Beyond that she was also a scholar in residence at the Center for Open Science to advance pre-registration for qualitative research.

And you might've guessed it: some of her self-described research interests are responsible conduct of research,  research integrity, open science and meta-science. I'm especially excited to talk to Tamarinde  for this podcast series. We will be talking mainly about best practices for creating an open research culture.

This is of course, especially important in light of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science.

Welcome to the Open Update.

Tamarinde Haven: Thank you so much. Thank you for the kind introduction

Chris Hartgerink: We like to start our interviews with the same question. What is a low hanging fruit of the recommendation from your perspective, your expertise? And what do you think will be one of the things that's going to be really difficult to realize?

Tamarinde Haven: What I think is a low-hanging fruit is that the declaration of Open Science in particular also talks about combining the efforts of many different stakeholders. And I think by virtue of the declaration coming out, we're already seeing that coming into action. If you compare it perhaps to about say five to 10 years ago, it's going to be much easier to get various stakeholders on board.

We're seeing efforts from publishers, from journals, but also from research institutions and funders to promote many things related to open science. If you think of a good and an open research culture, at least these stakeholders seem to show signs that they're actually on board, which I think is really going to help us mobilize this.

Chris Hartgerink: Do you think that the realizing the intent into practical change is going to be one of the harder things to realize, or is there another component within the recommendation where you say "Ooh, that sprung out to me" as something that is gonna be more difficult?

Tamarinde Haven: I think you're very right that there's a big difference between what you value in beautiful aspirations, declarations, and manifestos – and what we actually see in the lab or in the research culture on a day to day basis. One of the things that stood out to me in the declaration, and something I'd very much like to applaud for, is the emphasis they put on the role of early career researchers.

But this is actually also something where I foresee some challenges. And in particular, because early career researchers are not always the most powerful figures within an academic research institution. So even if they fully want to live up to what the UNESCO declaration of open science and other declarations specify, they might actually be hindered on a day-to-day basis by the environment in their lab. perhaps by their supervisor or their group, because not everybody may be fully on board yet.

Chris Hartgerink: You're moving from early career to mid career if I may say so. How have you experienced this in your work?

Tamarinde Haven: One of the things that comes to mind was when I started his work in 2017, we were doing survey research related to research integrity. And as you may guess, this also regards asking people very sensitive questions that we didn't want to have in the open before we could curate that data and to really properly anonymize it. This turns out to be a massive challenge because our institution at that time didn't really have very good and secure data storage.

I really think those sorts of institutional barriers of having those capacities, having to right data stewards, having the right security there that still enables an easy workflow. It's something where I'm very glad to see more and more attention devoted to this, but it wasn't so much the case when we started.

And I actually still think that in some of the informed consent forms and other things we tell participants, that by wanting to comply with the newest standards, we may sometimes overlook what our institution is actually able to cater for. This is really something to keep in mind.

Chris Hartgerink: And when you talk about these data stewards, the consent, this pertains to the research on the integrity climate in Amsterdam am I right?.

Tamarinde Haven: That's correct.

Chris Hartgerink: And that was a very sensitive topic. Right? What made it sensitive for the listeners who aren't necessarily familiar with the contents?

Tamarinde Haven: A few of the things we were asking about was how do people perceive their day-to-day research environment? And in particular, we were interested in things like 'How do they perceive their supervisors?', 'How fair did he feel evaluated?' But also what sort of behaviors do they observe around them? And as you may imagine, this also regarded behaviors that we genuinely deem at least a bit more questionable. Asking those sorts of things generally prompt people to think "who's going to see this information?" and "Can I really be open?" So this also makes it that we have a responsibility as researchers to assure we're fully up to scratch.

Chris Hartgerink: And were there also things that promoted an open research culture where people did feel safe?

Tamarinde Haven: One of the things that really struck me was the important role that a supervisor can play there, especially because we talked about early career researchers before.

That if people feel that they're fairly evaluated by their supervisor, but they also feel that they can discuss mistakes or dilemmas with their supervisor, that this was something that almost acted as a protective factor. And I think that's a very important insight. We make these declarations on high and broad international levels and a lot of institutions subscribed to them.

But what I found hopeful in these results is that there are also things we can do on a much more local level by how we interact with each other on a daily basis. And hopefully also trying to create an atmosphere that is perceived as psychologically safe. So that if an early career researcher has faced a particular dilemma, of what is the best way to do this, that they feel that although they may feel intellectually challenged and that's something we'd very much welcome in academia, but that they also feel that they can ask for help.

Or if they have made a mistake that they feel like this can be discussed openly and they don't have to hide it somewhere because their supervisor would very much not approve them, making any mistakes.

Chris Hartgerink: What is psychological safety?

Tamarinde Haven: Psychological safety generally defined as the perception that it is okay to challenge the status quo.

To ask a question to show the vulnerability and to also say: I don't know.

I personally think all of those components are incredibly relevant in science. I think it's super vital for all of us that we also very much say when we don't know. Because that's where areas for new research may occur.

That's where very valuable alternative explanations may occur. Then sometimes we may be a little bit too much stuck in that framework. And also sometimes we may feel like there is not really the environment that you can say this is also something I very much struggled with.

Do you think I did this all right? Or what would you have done differently?

Here I also see that sometimes even we academics have the tendency to protect one another and to believe that by not getting feedback and by only flattering people that's the best to do.

But here, I think, if you can foster this atmosphere of psychological safety and people do  feel like they can raise dilemmas and ask questions, that this may also lead to greater intellectual growth. Sometimes by trying to be human beings, we don't like that sort of confrontation and we don't want to hurt someone's emotions. But by doing that we're also taking away learning opportunities for someone.

Chris Hartgerink: That's a tidbit of insight right there. Avoiding conflict leads to less intellectual growth, I hear you say. And you also said before that it's a lot of early career researchers. They want to be more open, but they don't have the power to actually make those changes. And here I hear you talk about psychological safety and that immediately, for me at least, activates power dynamics.

Tamarinde Haven: The perceptions of the research climate, which is very related to research culture, were overall very different.

If you asked the full professor versus a PhD candidate or a post-doc, there were very stark differences. Generally speaking the more senior the person, the rosier views they presented, the rosier their perception seemed to be, everything was very fine. They were evaluated fairly, there were all sorts of resources available, whereas people on the lower steps of the academic ladder saw a lot more challenges and didn't always feel fairly evaluated. I think it starts with those sort of reflections, right? And to realize that even if you are higher up the ladder, that the way that you perceive the research culture around you may not be a perception that is as widely shared as you may presuppose.

And that also with your seniority academically, come particular responsibilities also when it comes to giving to good example, I think sometimes senior researchers may overlook how much they are seen and perceived as role models. Also in the way they do research, in the way they behave on conferences, in the sort of role they take at lab presentations.

These are all opportunities where they really can be role models. And where also, if they display behavior that may not be as role modelish as they perhaps intended to display. This is still very much internalized as this is a way that people do science: This is the way my supervisor does science.

Chris Hartgerink: Would you agree with the statement that regardless of whether supervisors are sensitive to this idea, that they are role modeling towards early career researchers, they will influence regardless whether they present themselves as a good role model or a bad role model?

Tamarinde Haven: I am inclined to agree. It's a little bit that I think here, we can almost draw the analogy between parents and children.

I think we all have things from my parents that we very much think "oh, I never want to become like this." And there may be also phases in our lives where we then change our mind about these sorts of things, but here as well. It's very challenging to say my parents or the people that raised me had zero influence.

There are always role models, whether that may be an accident, things they did and achieved, or whether it may be in terrible life choices.

Chris Hartgerink: I'm going to go out on a limb here. Would you suggest, or what are your ideas around the gender distribution of supervision? How does that play into how the research culture is nowadays?

Do you feel that if there would be more women in supervisory positions, would that change your research culture

Tamarinde Haven: I to be frankly honest, I don't know empirically, but there are some pointers. For example, when it comes to these sort of behaviors, like creating a psychologically safe atmosphere, this also requires a certain insight into one's own emotions. And there have indeed been studies indicating that we see some gender disparities there with women generally being a little bit better at communicating their own emotions and perhaps reading other people's emotions. But I don't want to over-generalize there.

I think we much rather have the disparity in terms of perhaps sort of academic age or also, the extent to which the system that has governed science for so long has actually benefited someone. Some people may have made a brilliant scientific career primarily based on high impact factor publications.

And perhaps they have even engaged in some of the practices that we now call questionable. It may be very natural for them to still socialize their PhD candidates into those behaviors. And this is also something we sometimes refer to as mentoring for survival because still in a contemporary environment, those could be strategies that help someone survive and climb up the academic ladder rather fast.

So I think it's more in that sort of way that we may want to re-examine this.

Chris Hartgerink: Okay. It's a real scientist's answer. Like, I'm not sure about the empirical evidence, so that's very good. I was trying to, trying to poke a bit, so thank you for that.

We're also coming almost full circle in that sense. Certain forms of mentorship can be very effective for early career researchers like survival and focusing purely on the metrics that are important. And then it comes back to, well, how do you change research culture? It's as you said, changing the circumstances also, it's not up to the individual only.

Tamarinde Haven: Yeah. And I think this is also something where I would really like to see what do supervisors actually do? What sort of behaviors do we see in their publications? And how do people perceive their duty to be a good supervisor? There are many of these values also in the new UNESCO Declaration of Open Science where you wonder.

So they mentioned things about quality and integrity, and it's always those sort of cases where but do we really do this? So one of those paragraphs talks about making research methods, widely available. How many supervisors do that? These are really things I would like to see and know.

Chris Hartgerink: I know from our interview with Eleanor Haine that the UNESCO commissions, they are also working on how to measure these things, to see whether there is progress.

And I think that if there are ideas from you or from listeners, it would be very interesting also to hear how this measurement over time will take place. I think in four or five years, the first measurement will take place, and I think that in that sense also, it's a nice segue.

One of the points that our interview with Brian Nosek, he said it's all about getting started on being open. And I know that you also have experience with trying to change a culture, make it more open. And I wonder whether you have any tips for our listeners to improve the open culture, wherever they are.

Tamarinde Haven: So something we did in my old department of philosophy that has brought me so much in that I think aligns a lot with this is that we always had a collective reading of someone's manuscript before they wanted to submit it. And all of the attendees at the meeting basically played peer reviewer and it was always incredibly insightful.

People will filter out all sorts of reasoning errors, small rounding off mistakes, they will help you to clarify your narrative. They will question some interpretations and add new alternative explanations to those. So in this way we, everyone knew what sort of work had really been done and gone out.

And we all had a little chance of improving each other's work. And that was actually very exciting because sometimes it was your sort of one remark that really made that paper in an even sort of better shape. This was also very nice because it took away some part of the secrecy we sometimes have.

Even in departments that I've worked in in the past, people will only share their work once it's been published and accepted. And I really think this is a shame because often the department you work in is your department, because there are actually people with a complimentary knowledge and skills present that could help you improve that work.

It's a super nice opportunity to bring it back for early career researchers to perhaps give them the floor first. Maybe give them a heads-up that they can ask the first question, but it's very cool to see what people actually focus on. And that could be a really cool learning opportunity for you as a supervisor as well, to see how.

They focus on those things, but there may yet overlook those. So it is all comes back to also making this a learning trajectory for.

Chris Hartgerink: There's so much in there. You mentioned the power dynamics of supervisors, that they sometimes don't realize that giving the floor to early career researchers first, instead of claiming it sounds like a perfect way to sort of recognize those power dynamics.

And are there things that you experienced that made you feel safe or that inspired you or have effected you to carry that forward in your own practice?

Tamarinde Haven: One of the things that was very much role modeled, I think, was how people try to be critical readers, but also charitable readers.

So you notice that the way the more senior researchers in the group behaved was that it was not so much their intention to fully undermine everything you've done.

Much rather, they've really tried to take the perspective of how can we even improve this, or how can we take out possible interpretations that you don't want readers to draw? This was also something that made me think "okay, by the time I am ready to have my papers scrutinized, it's not going to be a sort of collective slaughtering event where everything I've brought to the fore is going to be torn down to pieces." It does make me feel sort of more psychologically safe, but it also was a sort of role modeling. It's still something I very much try to do whenever we do that with our students now. That you make it clear it's something you try to do to make people grow and to improve their work.

Chris Hartgerink: Moving on to a next section. How do you see the future in this field today? I happen to know you you're allowed to share some good news with us, that you will keep working on this into the future. What's getting you excited about research culture is good supervision. What do you hope we will talk about if we revisit this interview in a few years?

Tamarinde Haven: What I'm going to work on for the next two years is actually developing a measurement instrument to look at responsible supervision. I think this is, it's still very much a fuzzy concept, and I'm sure that's also been clear to some of our listeners today. I would like to make it a little bit more tangible also to inspire people and institutions to value this, to take this responsible supervision aspect seriously.

So for the next two years, I've received a Rubicon grant from the NWO and I'm very excited to start working on this. We'll also try to look at what are exactly the responsible research practices that we would like supervisors to role model given their particular disciplinary field.

And I think this is something where UNESCO has done a really good job in trying to be sensitive to all sort of different ways in which we do research. And I would also like to see that for supervision.

Chris Hartgerink: So thank you, for sharing a bit about your perspective on best practices for an open research culture.

We heard a lot. Before we close out this interview, I want to ask you, are there any top of mind, things that you would still like to share and leave our listeners with?

Tamarinde Haven: I think one thing I want to share is although I've talked quite a bit about the role of supervisors, I also really think there is a role for the early career researchers here.

And there's also a role in empowering each other. I've talked about this example of doing collective peer review. Even if you may not get immediately support from your supervisor. Perhaps start with some of your peers and then go back to your supervisor and showcase how your work has improved due to doing this with your peers together.

So even if you don't try to direct support from the people that should formally supervise you. I think you can rest assured that in science there are incredibly clever souls and a lot of young people that really want to move this space forward, so benefit them and empower each other.


That was our interview with Tamarinde Haven, an original here on the second season of the Open Update. What insights stuck with you during the interview? What are you still thinking about right now? And what did you disagree with? I would love to hear from you because this isn't a conversation on a podcast.

It's a conversation for us all. Leave us a voice message. It can be one minute maximum. So you also don't need to keep talking for ages. It doesn't need to be perfect and you don't need to necessarily have a very deep insight. I would appreciate to hear what resonated, what didn't stick and you know, also always nice to hear whose listening.

And when you send us a voice message, you'll be immediately be entering into our lottery for a copy of the book, Ways of Being by our previous guest, James Bridle, but be sure to not forget it a way to get in touch with you. Otherwise we can't send you anything of course, but for now, have a good rest of your day.

Next week, we'll be back with our interview with Wendy Ingram, where we'll talk about best practices for improving mental health in academia.

Written by
Chris Hartgerink
Researcher and director at Liberate Science.
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