Masterclass John Ioannidis

Last modified: May 22, 2017

by Joeri Tijdink

On Friday the 18th of November, I had the privilege to present and discuss my research projects in a masterclass with John Ioannidis, together with 8 other early career researchers. John was the keynote speaker of the Anatomische Les; an annual lecture for academics in Amsterdam. The presentation format was simple. We had 10 minutes to present our research and point out the most important dilemmas we are confronted with in the concept, design and methods of our research projects. After this, John would lead the discussion and point out the most important possible strengths and weaknesses to bear in mind on the road to publication.

The presenters all did a great job and were well prepared to summarize their research eloquently. John was surprised by the amount and diversity of the projects and expressed authentic gratitude to get to know so many Dutch metaresearch projects. To summarize John’s enthusiasm during our meeting: ‘I just like everything that is meta’ referring to all the metaresearch that is currently performed in the Netherlands.

To name some excellent research projects; Michèle Nuijten discussed her recently launched tool ‘statcheck’ to detect misreported statistics and Vera Heininga beautifully described how cherry picking can be used in deciding which variable and statistical tests should be used to detect statistical significance in the effect of the Serotonin Transporter on the outcome of depression.

The end of the masterclass became more philosophical. Should we consider metaresearch as part of the evolution of science? The urge for researching research (the so-called metaresearch) would only become relevant if the results of ‘ordinary research’ are scrutinized and questioned. It reminds me of the pyramid of Maslow. He describes in his Hierarchy of Needs for humans that self-actualization (achieving full potential) is the top of the pyramid. With some philosophical fantasy, metaresearch can be seen as the top of the Hierarchy of needs for science in which metaresearch explores, fine-tunes and improves the full potential of science.

Joeri Tijdink is a PostDoc researcher at the VU university and VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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