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: from History to Neuroscience, from Philosophy to Metascience, including Physics, Artifical Intelligence, and Toxicology. Here you can read about our background, motivations, and organizational structure. Most of us work for JOTE as voluntary members, and financial compensations are largely symbolic.
Stefan Gaillard, Co-founder, 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.
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.
Sarahanne Field, Metaresearch editor
When I first heard about the unfolding ‘crisis of confidence’ as psychology undergraduate, I was equal parts troubled and fascinated. My personal mission featured crazy ideas about replicating every study in existence. Since then, my personality has mellowed out; my views on science and the academic system similarly tempered. My core drive remains the same now as it was then, however: to improve the trustworthiness and quality of scientific inquiry, and to contribute to reforming the academic publishing system. The ethnographic research I am conducting for my PhD involves studying the scientific reform community and their practices, which means that I am well-placed to keep an eye on the way academia is evolving in response to the great need for change. What I see makes me increasingly optimistic about the future of science. My other research interests involve exploring how best to select targets for replication studies, advocating for reflexivity as a possible quantitative scientific practice, and using the Bayesian statistical framework to quantify null results.
Chelsea Pozzebon, Biomedicine Editor
Jobke Visser, Co-founder, 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, Co-founder, Former Project Leader
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, Co-founder, 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’? How should JOTE ‘talk’ so we reach a diverse audience of researchers? My background in the Life Sciences (BSc Maastricht University), Neuroscience (MSc Université de Strasbourg), and History and Philosophy of Science (MSc Utrecht University) helps me address these questions and ‘translate’ between concepts and disciplinary terminology.
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. I am doing my PhD at the Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium).
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.
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.
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!
Mor Lumbroso, In-house Designer
As a former independent designer, I decided to turn to interdisciplinary research within History and Philosophy of Science. My intention was to understand the intellectual gap between artistic and scientific thinking. For me, design, art and science are deeply connected through creative thinking and communication, where the process of Trial and Error is an inseparable part of any endeavor.
Science communication and publication were always dependent on visuals such as graphs, images, or simple and coherent presentations. I believe this is where designers and scientists must work together to find innovative transparent channels for their audiences. It is exciting to be able to put my passion into practice and work with the interdisciplinary team at JOTE, where there is a mutual dedication to challenging traditional academic channels of knowledge communication.
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.
Marie Agergaard, Copy Editor
During my Bachelor’s degree, I learned about the replication crisis and its many contributing factors – but what really stood out to me was how different things could have been if we had been open about what worked, and what didn’t. The problem doesn’t lie in making mistakes, but rather in correcting them and communicating them clearly to others, which is where I come in: my job is to make sure that each article is grammatically sound and conforms to the journal’s format.
Ultimately, I believe that effective science communication about such ‘errors’ is invaluable and will help us advance science, use resources more wisely, and signal to the scientific community that making mistakes is okay (and actually very insightful)!