Structured Adversarial Collaboration

To maximize the potential impact of the experiments we support, we developed a six-stage grantmaking process called Structured Adversarial Collaboration. It involves inviting leading theorists and experimentalists to design collaborative experiments that test incompatible predictions rooted in competing theories of consciousness. Throughout this process, we will also promote and support efforts to maximize scientific rigor and replicability.

The information on this page complements our Workshop Guidance Document (coming soon), which is being developed through an iterative process to ensure that the hosts and attendees of the workshops we support always have the most up-to-date guidance.

Stage 1: Plan a workshop

The Foundation identifies workshop hosts by inviting proposals, surveying the literature, and interviewing scholars in the field. We may offer support through a donation, and we work with the host to identify participants. In order to identify a date that will maximize attendance, schedules are surveyed six to nine months in advance of the meeting.

Stage 2: Host a workshop

Workshops generally feature three key agenda items: (i) articulating testable predictions of each theory represented, (ii) identifying incompatible predictions from two or more theories, and (iii) designing an experiment to test those predictions. Participants are encouraged to identify a discrete experiment and draft a design that is as detailed as possible. The group will be expected to agree on clearly articulated next steps, including assigning responsibility for drafting and managing the registered report. (Click here for more information about registered reports.)

Stage 3: Design an experiment

Workshop participants write up the experiment in the form of a preregistration or a registered report. During this process, the Foundation may offer to host webinars, keep in frequent contact with key stakeholders, and provide general coordination.

Stage 4: Request funding for an experiment

Funding can be requested from any philanthropic organization. If funding is requested from Templeton World Charity Foundation, then the funding decision will depend upon the in-principle acceptance of a registered report by a reputable journal. Letters of support will also be required from the leading figures of the theories to be tested. The preregistration or registered report document will form the basis of the Project Description section for a proposal.

Stage 5: Conduct the experiment

The research may require multiple methodological approaches and investigators. Where possible, data will be collected by a contract research organization and/or with simultaneous replication. Given the complexity of such an approach, funds will be provided for researchers to visit collaborators, and for a project manager to ensure proper standards for data collection and sharing. The data collection and storage must, wherever feasible, be open to other researchers.

Stage 6. Publish the findings

For projects in this initiative, the Foundation may provide additional support to raise the profile of significant findings. The registered report process allows for an article to be published even if the experiment yields null results or disproves one or more of the theories being tested. The Foundation may also provide recognition and support for those who submit to disproof as a result of legitimate experimental testing.