The proposal of LNCO, called Open Virtual Psychology, contributes to EPFL's Open Science initiative by tackling the issue of the experimental replication crisis in cognitive research.
Since the creation in 2018 of the Open Science Fund to support the best ideas from everyone on campus, two successive calls for proposal attracted nearly 75 propositions submitted in 2018 and 2019. Eighteen projects were selected by the members of the open science strategic committee, joined for the occasion by representatives of the various EPFL schools, and will receive support to develop ideas fostering open and reproducible research on campus, and beyond.
Experimental research in psychology, neuroscience, and medicine, is in the midst of a “replication crisis”. Even seminal studies and research highlighted in introductory chapters of major textbooks are replicated at a ratio of only 50%. Although researchers are currently looking for new methodological solutions to facilitate reproducibility of exact experimental paradigms and conditions and aid replication, no agreement has been reached. We believe Virtual Reality (VR) offers a new method and may lead to a paradigm shift suitable for the implementation of such new research practices. The Virtual Psychology platform we propose provides tools for developing behavioral experiments in immersive VR, enabling the creation of rich, fully controlled experimental paradigms. Owing to the affordability and availability of state-of-the-art VR equipment, our platform will allow packaging, sharing and re-execution of experiments. Members of the research community will be able to collect more substantial data when reproducing an experiment in VR and will upload paradigms, conditions, and data in centralized repositories, fostering replication. In the Virtual Psychology project, we will develop the software tools to support this innovative practice and demonstrate its usability and benefits through collaborations at Campus Biotech