Our project began with the idea that the way science is communicated affects the way science is done.
The team that took up the challenge to make this idea a reality is composed by graduate students (master and PhD) of different areas of specialization: History, Philosophy, Neuroscience and Psychology. Here you can read about our background, motivations, and organizational structure.
Stefan Gaillard, Editor-in-chief
My primary academical interest is applied epistemology, more specifically how humans form the capacity to gain knowledge in different environments – such as during Human-Machine Collaboration. Failure seems to be an essential component of the learning process and deserves far more attention than it has lately received from the scientific community. With the Journal of Trial and Error, I hope to encourage researchers of all stripes to not only be open about “failure” but to publish about it as well. This will be beneficial for both the global research community in general and for those of us studying and managing knowledge processes in particular.
Davide Cavalieri, Neuroscience Editor
Although advances in scientific research depend on continuous challenging of what is currently known, the social, ethical and ultimately, political framework embedding academia is rarely called into question among researchers.
I am confident that by rethinking the process of knowledge dissemination, this will evolve to be more open, transparent and accessible. The job is hard, most certainly, but thrilling! I joined the Journal of Trial and Error as a science insider (at present I am a neuroscience PhD student) with these convictions, as well as my passion for mind, nature and sound.
Sean Devine, Psychology Editor
Famous chess player, Emmanuel Lasker, once said “without failure, there can be no brilliance.”
As a PhD student in cognitive science, I encounter failure on a daily basis. Failure is an essential part of every research project; without it, we do not know where we’ve been and cannot know where we’re going. Unfortunately, many researchers are judged not on their ability to produce good, honest, science, but on their ability to find statistically significant, ‘publishable” results. In nearly every Psychology Department I’ve visited, this focus on publishability has the same consequence: a palpable fear of failure.
I joined the Journal of Trial and Error to help counteract this environment of fear and contribute to a healthier scientific climate for new researchers (including myself). My own research interests include cognitive effort, metacognition, lifespan development, and concept change.
Valentine Delrue, History Editor
As a Ph.D. candidate in the history of science, I am particularly interested in the process of science: how science is accepted and rejected by a community. Currently, I’m looking at how the boundaries between science and non-science were negotiated by competing historical actors in the field of meteorology around 1800. I agree with JOTE’s project that pushing the boundaries of human knowledge is a messy process. I hope to support academics from all disciplines, but especially from the humanities, in discussing and challenging our current scientific culture. The aim is to shine a light on the norms in the academic community and see what happens if we find creative ways to reframe failure in science in the broad sense. For example by not only finding ways to productively share negative results but also rejected grant applications.
Jobke Visser, Project Leader
As someone with an interest in nearly all scientific disciplines and a background in philosophy, political science, and psychology, I firmly believe no science can develop on its own: there is not one area of science that can function in isolation. What I love most about the Journal of Trial and Error is its interdisciplinary character. Our journal is the place where the humanities mix with natural sciences, social sciences, and life sciences to create a unified whole and a better science.
Martijn van der Meer, Former Project Leader, Transition Coordinator
Being a historian, I want to contribute in a constructive way to scientific endeavours. Over the past decades, many historians of science and medicine showed that science is situated in a social and cultural context and that doing science is a deeply personal experience. These reflections make me believe that constructive reflection enables us to better understand pressing issues such as positive publication bias and the replication crisis. I think that scientists, together with historians, philosophers, and sociologists are able to create a more transparent and trustworthy academic environment in which trial and error is recognized as a fundamental aspect of doing research.
Max Bautista Perpinyà, Creative Director
I am convinced that the teachings of the disciplines commenting on science (History and Philosophy of Science, STS, Metascience) can only be productive for the experimental sciences if we construct common spaces. I envision JOTE as such, and my main task in it is to ask: how can we have constructive conversations across disciplines when researchers use different ‘languages’?
I have a background in the Life Sciences (B.Sc at Maastricht University), Neuroscience (M.Sc at the Université de Strasbourg), and currently pursuing a Master in History and Philosophy of Science at Utrecht University. My task in JOTE is thus to ‘translate’.
I am interested in the history of journals, and more broadly, on how knowledge is communicated within different platforms. The twenty-first century comes with exciting alternatives and pressing challenges.
Maura Burke, Sustainability Director
As an interdisciplinary researcher primarily concerned with the conceptual foundations of theoretical biology and theoretical physics, I am required to critically assess that which is purportedly fundamental. While the scientific enterprise certainly has enjoyed immense success, I cannot help but wonder if our received manner of evaluating and publishing results serves not to aid, but to encumber meaningful development. I maintain that “negative results” represent a previously underappreciated wealth of relevant knowledge, with consequential conversations regarding methodological and conceptual practices constituting their core. It is my hope that through the Journal of Trial and Error I can work to elucidate the lacunas left in the wake of conventional publishing traditions while maintaining a commitment to transparency and forthright discourse.
Lottricia Millett, Communication Strategist
As an English and Creative Writing student with a keen interest and some academic background in science, I am always looking for ways in which to create an interdisciplinary dialogue between the humanities and sciences. I first came across the ‘file drawer problem’ during A-level Psychology and am excited to be working to combat this and other issues in research via JOTE. I was chosen to be the team’s Communication Strategist due to my varied social media experience. I love that my role enables me to work with scientific data without requiring specialist knowledge. I learn new things all the time!
Thomas Jorna, Technology Infrastructure and Metadata Director
From my background in physics, I know that experiments can be fickle things and are prone to fail for any number of reasons. JOTE‘s commitment to stimulating reflection and dialogue about why some experiments do not pan out is a valuable contribution to the scientific enterprise, filling a gap many know is there but few are willing to put in the work to close.
Together with Fleur I am responsible for designing and implementing the digital environments of our journal, be that the main website, the interactive repository on PubPub or the PDFs. Furthermore I help to increase the visibility of the journal online, by optimizing the website and making sure we are indexed by major search engines and databases.
Fleur Petit, IT Advisor
Online publishing comes with many opportunities for improving the accessibility of results, feedback and reflections of researchers. I will work together with Thomas on the digital requirements for establishing JOTE as an open and transparent journal. I do a master in Artificial Intelligence in addition to the History and Philosophy of Science master in Utrecht. Data analysis and visualisation have been an important part of my master in Artificial Intelligence so far, and I am very grateful to be able to apply these skills with the intent to further enrich scientific communication.
Anna Ghassemieh, Outreach and Communication
I believe it is invaluable to expand conversations about how science is being conducted across disciplines and make them accessible to the public. Our understanding of any given topic and our scientific practices are enriched by trial and error. I consider this an integral piece of the puzzle when it comes to forming new ideas and solutions in science. As a neuroscience graduate student, I want to be actively involved in shaping the scientific community I have become a part of. Being originally from Germany, I see JOTE’s future connected beyond borders and language barriers. I am excited to work together to establish transparent and open scientific spaces where non-significant results are still seen as significant contributions.
Winnie Henderson, Outreach and Communication
In my years of studying, I have come across a lot of scientists brushing off errors and mistake as ‘just something negative that happens when practising science’. The more positive ones say you must see them as learning opportunities -to yourself-. As a writer and a scientist in the making (master’s student in Toxicology and Environmental Health), I would like to help scientists to open up about mistakes, error, and above all: serendipity. To make academic culture truly positive, we must embrace the knowledge in others’ errors as much as we try to learn from our own..
Dorothy Yip, Copy Editor
As a Psychology student with a focus on empirically supported treatments, I believe our field can only be improved through a critical examination of which studies get published and why (or why not). I am passionate about language as a vessel for effective communication, as a topic of scientific inquiry, or as an art form. At JOTE, I proofread publications for grammar, readability, and adherence to format. In my spare time, I study bilingual communication and edit a literary journal created for emerging diasporic Asian writers.