We have three main roles: developing theory, designing experiments, sharing data, and discussing interpretations.

Developing theory

Members of the Consortium discuss competing theories which can explain scientific findings in profanity research. These discussions can involve developing new theories, identifying existing results which are in need of replication, determining critical tests of competing theories, and arranging adversarial collaborations.

The breadth and depth of knowledge represented by members of the Consortium, which span from neuroscience to linguistics, means that members can form small groups who can develop more complete theories than they might be able to alone. This is not to say that all members of the Consortium will agree on how to best make sense of profanity related phenomena. However, by facilitating collaborations between researchers from different theoretical positions, we aim to promote adversarial collaborations. Adversarial collaborations allows researchers with different commitments to agree on whether an experiment will be a good test of their theories before they run the experiments and get to see the results. We can then test any suggested theories repeatedly using the same experiments across multiple research sites, allowing for us to know whether our results reliably reflect reality or whether there were false positives and/or negatives skewing our previous understandings.

Designing experiments

Consortium members work together to design experiments. Designing experiments means taking the idea of a manipulation which can separate the predictions of different theories and turning it into a project suitable for undergraduate research by devising the experimental materials and protocols. The experiments designed by the Consortium will be simple enough to be conducted by undergraduates in their final year of study in the appropriate field, and each of these studies will be a self-contained project with room for extension, analysis, and interpretation by the researcher. These studies will have a core kernal of overlapping data which can be combined by members of the Consortium to explore the predictions made by the competing theories. In this way the experiments serve both the purpose of teaching developing researchers and answering questions which are too difficult to answer with individual undergraduate research projects.

In order to facilitate experimentation, the Consortium will produce protocols and materials which are available to all members. This may include things like simulating data to predict results in line with differing theories, writing code for experimental paradigms, and providing questionnaires and forms for participants to complete.

We aim to make sure translations resources are available so the same experiment can be performed in different countries. Another important part of our work is making it as simple as possible for Research Ethics Committees to understand and approve the methods used in the experiments.

Sharing data

When data has been collected it is shared with members of the Consortium and, where possible, other researchers in the wider scientific community. This sharing means that the small quantities of data collected by individual researchers during individual experiments can be brought together to answer important questions in reliable ways. It also means that different teams can explore different ways to examine the data, and that the data can be used to investigate different questions from the ones it was collected to answer.

Discussing interpretations

The last part of the Consortium’s role is discussing and disseminating the interpretations of the data collected in experiments. This involves explaining the results of the research to other researchers, the media, and members of the public. Finally, we all go back to the beginning and discuss new theories, or modifications to old theories, which can account for the results we’ve found in our research, and the whole process starts again.