Replication and Ethics in Economics: Thirty Years After Dewald, Thursby and Anderson
Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Hyatt Regency Chicago, Grand Ballroom CD North
- Chair: Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois-Chicago
Replication and Economics Journal Policies
AbstractWe investigate the impact of the introduction of replication policies for leading journals in economics on citations. As has previously been shown for other social sciences, there is an indication that the introduction of a replication policy increases the number of citations for a journal, presumably because readers use the data for their own investigation, possibly also because of a reliability effect. We see our results as an incentive for journals to introduce and enforce replication policies. Lamentably, only a minority of journals so far enforce their policies in a way that ensures replicability of most of the empirical work. With several examples we show how replication becomes difficult if policies are not enforced, and we suggest a pool of replicability editors as a solution: Since it would be too much to expect from journals to have experts for every single topic and software package, a joint effort of journals for such a pool of experts could help to ensure each empirical study is published with data, code, and instructions how to use them together such that all published results can easily be replicated. Reviewers can join the effort for replicability by following the principles of the Agenda for Open Research and refuse to comprehensively review empirical work that does not guarantee fully replicable empirical results. Further study is needed to investigate the citation impact on single articles, and we suggest a design for such research.
Replication versus Meta-Analysis in Economics: Where Do We Stand 30 Years After Dewald, Thursby and Anderson?
AbstractAlthough earlier authors (notably, Ed Kane and Tom Mayer) had emphasized the importance of replication for the intellectual integrity of empirical economic analysis, modern discussion of the issue largely dates from the 1986 American Economic Review paper by Dewald, Thursby and Anderson that summarized their work at the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking. Their work has been extended to other journals by Bruce McCullough and others. Moving beyond replication, some authors have suggested that metadata analysis might be at least as powerful a tool. This analysis surveys the literature since Dewald et al, and compares/contrasts its advocacy for replication (using authors’ datasets and program to recalculate empirical results) with the concept of meta-analysis widely used in the “hard” sciences. For empirical work, the principal difference is that data in empirical economic studies are nonstochastic in the sense that they seldom are created via experiments. In the hard sciences, replication often entails repeating the process that generated the data, an inherently stochastic endeavor. In economics, meta-analysis promises to be useful in assessing the importance of studies based on simulated data, including DSGE modeling.
Is Economics Research Replicable? Sixty Published Papers From Thirteen Journals Say “Usually Not”
AbstractWe attempt to replicate 67 papers published in 13 well-regarded economics journals using author-provided replication files that include both data and code. Some journals in our sample require data and code replication files, and other journals do not require such files. Aside from 6 papers that use confidential data, we obtain data and code replication files for 29 of 35 papers (83%) that are required to provide such files as a condition of publication, compared to 11 of 26 papers (42%) that are not required to provide data and code replication files. We successfully replicate the key qualitative result of 22 of 67 papers (33%) without contacting the authors. Excluding the 6 papers that use confidential data and the 2 papers that use software we do not possess, we replicate 29 of 59 papers (49%) with assistance from the authors. Because we are able to replicate less than half of the papers in our sample even with help from the authors, we assert that economics research is usually not replicable. We conclude with recommendations on improving replication of economics research.
Johns Hopkins University
University of Texas-Dallas
University of East Anglia
- A1 - General Economics
- B4 - Economic Methodology