Open Science Goes to the Antarctic–Well, Nearly

Have you ever met a Professor of Seaweed? No, nor had I, but now I have: Catriona Hurd. More about her in a moment.

I’m just back from two highly enjoyable days visiting IMAS, the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, part of the University of Tasmania. IMAS occupies an impressive new building right on the harbour in Hobart. Inside on the walls are stunning panorama pictures from Antarctica. There are various giant whale skulls and other specimens scattered about, along with piles of heavy duty crates with quarantine stickers, no doubt used to bring back samples from down south.

As an Antarctic tragic since childhood–see my Grade 4 project ‘Nature in the Frozen South’–I was delighted to be invited by Jon Havenhand to give a statistics talk and workshop at IMAS. Jon is at IMAS on sabbatical from Sweden. He, Catriona, and some colleagues have been worried about some statistical practices in their research fields, and keen to know more about the new statistics and other recent developments.

My talk and workshop seemed to be well received, with lots of comments along the lines that many IMAS researchers need to be thinking seriously about how the issues I raised should be addressed in their own fields. They were certainly receptive to the notion that many Open Science practices may be just as relevant–and needed–in their disciplines as in psychology. My impression was that they may find it less difficult to move on from p values to effect sizes and estimation than do many researchers in psychology.

The slides for my talk are here, and for my workshop are here.

I was lucky enough 10 years ago to go with 8 friends for 7 weeks in a small motor yacht, Australis, for a trip to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia, and the Falklands. Magic. Tho’ that just makes me more envious of those IMAS scientists whose research takes them down south for months at a time.

Two conclusions from my IMAS visit:

1. John Tukey was spot on when he famously said “The best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone’s backyard.”

2. Open Science (and the new statistics) is relevant, and needed, across numerous disciplines, some as far afield as the Antarctic.

Thanks Jon, Catriona, and others for the invitation and hosting.

P.S. Will you join the gentoo penguin in trying to hassle the slumbering crabeater seal?!

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