A Message from the President

A few days ago marked the close of the first SARMAC Regional Meeting, held ‘downunder’ in my hometown of Adelaide, Australia. Lead by Dr Jennifer Beaudry and her team, this meeting was a resounding success. It brought together some of Australia’s leading eyewitness researchers to discuss methodological and statistical issues facing applied psychology. But I found the eight student presentations and informal meet and greet to be a particular highlight; they emphasized the supportive and student focused environment SARMAC continues to foster. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review of the regional meeting coming soon! In the mean time, I hope that this newsletter, seamlessly assembled by Stephanie Cardenas (Social Chair), challenges you to think about how you can incorporate open science into your research, and how we can all work together to reduce gender imbalances in cognitive science.

Ella Moeck
SARMAC Student Caucus President

Finding the Missing Women: Why the Women in Cognitive Science (WiCS) is Important in 2018

By Victoria Bridgeland

In late 2017, scientists on social media were buzzing about studies showing that women, compared to men, ask fewer questions at conferences (Hinsley, Sutherland, & Johnston, 2017) and academic seminars (Carter, Croft, Lukas, & Sandstrom, 2017). They are also half as likely to speak at colloquiums as their male counterparts (Nittrouer, Hebl, Ashburn-Nardo, Trump-Steele, Lane, & Valian, 2017). These results came as a surprise to us over at the SARMAC student board; we all belong to primarily female labs, led by some of the strongest and most intelligent women we’ve ever known. As such, it disturbed us to learn that women may be less likely to put their hands up and ask questions, or present talks in professional academic environments.

Hinsley and colleagues (2017), using data collected while at an international biology conference, observed that for every question a female attendee asked, male attendees asked nearly twice as many—regardless of age. These results were further supported by Carter and colleagues (2017), who made observations at over 250 psychology and biology seminars in 10 countries, and found that female audience members asked fewer questions than male members—in both absolute and proportionate numbers. But as I mentioned above, women are not only less likely to ask questions at talks but also less likely to be the ones giving talks. On the basis of archival data from 2013-2014 sampling from 50 prestigious US colleges across six-disciplines (including psychology), Nittrouer and colleagues (2017) found that men were twice as likely as women to be colloquium speakers—again in absolute and proportionate numbers—and also after controlling for rank of the speaker.

But why do these gender imbalances occur? Authors were keen to point out that they don’t place blame on the actions of either gender, but pointed instead towards the limited visibility of women in certain roles (e.g., as question askers and speakers) as the root of the issue. That is, people may draw conclusions about the characteristics needed to fulfil certain roles by examining people who occupy those roles. Therefore, when women (or any other gender), are underrepresented in certain roles, particularly those with increased visibility, the expectation that women ought to speak up and assert themselves is undermined. Indeed, research shows that gender disparities involving the number of questions asked are eliminated in seminars where women rather than men ask the first question (Carter et al., 2017) and in colloquiums chaired by women rather than men (Nittrouer et al., 2017).

Among other factors, the lack of female visibility in higher academia is also reported to contribute to a phenomenon known as the ‘leaky pipeline’—which is the decreasing proportion of women in academia as career trajectories progress. For instance, while a high number of women graduate with a Bachelor’s degree, a smaller percentage will pursue post-graduate education, and an even smaller percentage will progress to assistant professorship, and so on (Ceci, Ginther, Kahn, & Williams, 2014).

These factors clearly demonstrate why organizations such as Women in Cognitive Science (WiCS) are important. Since 2001, WiCS has been both a platform and springboard for female researchers with a passion for cognitive psychology, including providing professional development and training, sharing job opportunities and assisting in networking, funding and collaboration. For example, each year WiCS awards grants to scientists who mentor female student, and to travel and initiate international research collaborations.

These funding opportunities are, however, just a small part of the organization’s mission—WiCS also strives to ensure that women are represented on editorial boards, committees and other organizations. Increasing the visibility of women in these roles, as recent findings demonstrate, is essential in creating an environment that encourages women to pursue opportunities in high levels of academia. With strong female representation within both the Executive and Student Caucus Board here at SARMAC, we are proud to say we also endeavour to empower women in such leadership roles. As part of our continued commitment to these shared goals, SARMAC has held WiCS seminars at our biennial meetings and we hope to continue doing so in future meetings.

If you like what you’ve read here about WiCS, I strongly advise that you become a member today—everyone regardless of gender are invited to join. Together, let’s build a vibrant cognitive science community that supports and encourages researchers from all walks of life, regardless of differences in gender or background.

For more information on WiCS visit: http://womenincogsci.org/


Carter, A., Croft, A., Lukas, D.,& Sandstrom, G. (2017). Women's visibility in academic seminars: women ask fewer questions than men. Read more at: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2018/01/17/women-ask-fewer-questions-than-men-in-academic-seminars/

Ceci, S.J., Ginther, D.K., Kahn, S., Williams, W. M. (2014). Women in academic science: A changing landscape. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 15(3), 75–141. doi:10.1177/1529100614541236

Hinsley, A., Sutherland, W., & Johnston, A. (2017). Men ask more questions than women at a scientific conference. Public Library of Science12(10). doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185534

Nittrouer, C., Hebl, M., Ashburn-Nardo, L., Trump-Steele, R., Lane, D., & Valian, V. (2017). Gender disparities in colloquium speakers at top universities. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences115(1), 104–108. doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1708414115

Promoting Open Science Practices

In this latest issue, we wanted to highlight some of things SARMAC members have to say about promoting open science practices, how they show their commitment to improving science, and what resources are available for those of us interested in advancing psychological science through increased collaboration and transparency.

What do SARMAC members have to say about open science?


“My students and I have been preregistering all of our hypothesis-testing research for the last couple of years.  That is, we write a detailed plan describing the procedures, predictions, and analysis plans (including exclusion rules) and save an immutable record of that plan on the Open Science Framework.  This protects us from hindsight bias and confirmation bias.  And it also leads us to do a better job of thinking through a study before we conduct it.  Of course, sometimes we end up deviating from the plan -- there's nothing wrong with that, but when we deviate from our plan we know we are doing so.”

-- Stephen Lindsay, PhD, University of Victoria



“Open science in my lab is about preserving the rights of others to reach their own independent interpretation of our data.  It entails risk as someone might find errors in our work.  There have been a number of benefits for us from open science: (1) we use better judgment before collecting data; (2) we have increased the reliability and decreased errors in data collection; (3) we practice more self-compassion knowing that although our goal is to minimize errors and questionable judgments, we will make them occasionally nonetheless.”

-- Jeff Rouder, PhD, University of Missouri



“To me, the most important step is to make all the data collected in our lab available for everyone. Our data is uploaded nightly to a public repository, so I do not even have to think about it anymore. Sure, open data practices sometimes make me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. The good news about open science though: Over time, these practices become easy and natural and the discomfort wears off.”

-- Julia Haff, PhD Student, University of Missouri



“Engaging in open science practices might seem like a bit of extra work at first sight. However, it really is very helpful to ensure that a research project is well planned and that your research is accessible and useful to your audience. It also decreases the risk of errors, increases the overall quality of your research, and has occasionally saved me a lot of time in the long run.”

-- Maximilian Rabe, PhD Student, Universität Potsdam

COS $1,000,000 (USD) Pre-Registration Challenge

Would you like to win $1000 for your next pet project? The Center for Open Science (COS) is challenging (and rewarding) 1,000 researchers $1,000 each to increase the quality and transparency of their research by pre-registering their research ideas and publishing their results. Pre-registering your work can be rewarding and help you down the road. It usually means outlining your data collection methods and analysis plan prior to viewing the data, thereby reducing concern over the influence of implicit biases affecting your results. But hurry! You have until the end of 2018 to complete the challenge.

We recommend visiting the Center for Open Science website (https://cos.io/prereg/) to learn more about the process and why this is just one more way we can all foster greater transparency and clarity in our scientific communities.

Study Swap

Have you heard of Study Swap? It’s an online platform that can help you connect to researchers who want to share their resources all in the pursuit of facilitating collaborative research and improving science. For example, say you “need” a certain type of participant population for your research project but have limited access at your institution. Using StudySwap, you could petition other researchers who may “have” access to this population to help you with data collection. Alternatively, if you have access to a unique population and would like to make them available to others (e.g., by adding a collaborator’s survey to your study protocol) you could create a “have” post to share your resources. StudySwap also encourages researchers to coordinate collaborative research projects across different research teams and sites (e.g., Many Labs projects).

For more information visit https://osf.io/view/studyswap/

The Society for Improvement of Psychological Science

The Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science (SIPS) –as its name suggests—is a ‘service organization’ with the goal of improving the quality of psychological sciences through training, building incentive structures for better scientific practices, and more. Members of SIPS value transparency and openness, skepticism and critical evaluation, civility in scientific discourse, and inclusivity. At the annual SIPS conference, attendees are encouraged to participate in “hack-a-thons” and “unconferences” rather than sit and passively listen to talks. That is, people get together and work together to address what they perceive to be pressing issues in the field, such as developing a better research methods syllabus, coming up with better incentive structures for practicing open science, or ways of increasing journal transparency.

To learn more about SIPS mission and/or their annual conference visit https://improvingpsych.org/.

Insight from a Student Member


Sara Davis is a PhD Student at Iowa State University, who has published research on retrieval induced forgetting, the forward effects of testing, and social contagion of memory in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory & Cognition, the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, and Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

How did you get interested in psychology?

I’ve always been a very analytical person, and I love solving puzzles.  Experimental psychology was in part a natural extension of these interests, although in a roundabout way.  I began my career interested in using applied behavior analysis to treat children with autism.  However, after working in a research lab, I realized that research was my real passion.

Do you have any advice for grad students/young faculty?

My biggest piece of advice is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  A lot of new graduate students are used to being some of the smartest people in the room, and that all changes when you move to the next step.  I had to learn to be okay with not knowing all the answers, and in the end this has made me a better scientist.  Treat challenges not as obstacles, but as learning opportunities from which to grow.  Secondly, I think adopting a perspective of humility can greatly help graduate students learn.  There is certainly a delicate balance between healthy self-promotion and being humble, but successfully navigating that balance can pay off both professionally and personally. 

What are you working on these days?

My dissertation is focused on identifying a metacognitive mechanism that can influence the forward effect of testing.  A great deal of work in my lab has focused on how taking a test influences the learning of subsequent material, although little is known about how metacognitive knowledge about the nature and difficulty of tests might play a role in this process.  I am currently comparing cued-recall tests to multiple-choice tests to determine if more difficult tests enhance future learning to a greater degree (SPOILER ALERT: They do). 

What do you think about the recent movement towards adopting open science practices?

I think it’s a great thing in general, although I think those of us in the field are still working out some of the ways that we can implement open science practices.  I have done so myself by making data and experimental materials available via the Open Science Framework, and others in my department have emphasized pre-registration as well.  I think both are excellent options, and relatively hassle-free to implement as part of your research routine.

What is your first/best SARMAC conference experience?

My first SARMAC was in Victoria, B.C., and I immediately thought “This is going to be a conference that I go to as often as I can.”  I love the more intimate atmosphere, the opportunity for junior researchers to interact with senior researchers, and the fact that students can receive valuable feedback on their work at posters and presentations.  The SARMAC network is such a great thing to be a part of!

Anything about your lab (recruitment plug, etc)

The Memory, Law, and Education Laboratory under the leadership of Jason Chan has been a great place for me to learn as a graduate student.  We will be recruiting in the Fall of 2018, so if you know any great undergraduates or masters-level students interested in memory in the context of education or the law, send them our way!

It's Time to Renew Your SARMAC Membership

It’s SARMAC membership renewal season and we’re hoping you will continue to support our efforts to bring SARMAC members great benefits like discounted conference registration fees, student-tailored webinars, Student Research Grants, and several travel grants for the next biennial meeting in Cape Cod, MA.

Student membership starts as low as $10 (for no journal) and up to $25 (for e-journal). Just click here to renew and pay online.

We thank you, in advance, for taking a moment to renew your affiliation with SARMAC.

If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or questions, contact us through Facebook (www.facebook.com/sarmacstudents), Twitter (@StudentSARMAC), or email (students@sarmac.org).