Friday, May 3, 2013

Mark Thoma on "Replication"

Yesterday, in his Economist's View blog, Mark Thoma discussed the importance of replicating results in empirical economics. He's absolutely right, of course.

I'll leave you to read what had to say, but I especially liked his closing passage:
"One place where replication occurs regularly is assignments in graduate classes. I routinely ask students to replicate papers as part of their coursework. Even if they don't find explicit errors (and most of the time they don't), it almost always raises good questions about the research (why this choice, this model, what if you relax this assumption, there's a better way to do this,here's the next question to ask, etc., etc.). So replication does occur routinely in economics, and it is very valuable, but it is not a formal part of the profession the way it should be, and much of the replication is done by people (students) who generally assume that if they can't replicate something, it is probably their error. We have a lot of work to do on the replication front, and I want to encourage efforts like this."
At least one of my colleagues also assigns replication exercises in this way, and I really should do the same. Fortunately, more journals are either recommending or requiring that data-sets be made available as a condition of publication. The Journal of Applied Econometrics is one such journal, and we've recently been pushing in that direction with the Journal of International Trade & Economic Development.

This should become part of our culture.

© 2013, David E. Giles


  1. Absolutely right! With R (and Sweave) the concept of REPRODUCIBLE RESEARCH is becoming very popular in statistics.

  2. Data sets and syntax files should be provided with every submission and then should be made available to subscribers after publication.

    It's really quite embarrassing that the discipline has gone on so long without these requirements and practices.