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The Role of Data & Program Code Archives in the Future of Economic Research


Richard G. Anderson


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - Research Division

William H. Greene


New York University Stern School of Business

B.D. McCullough


Drexel University - Department of Decision Sciences

Hrishikesh D. Vinod


Fordham University - Department of Economics

March 2005

FRB of St. Louis Working Paper No. 2005-014B

Abstract:     
This essay examines the role of data and program-code archives in making economic research "replicable." Throughout science, replication of published results is recognized as an essential part of the scientific method. Yet, historically, both the "demand for" and "supply of" replicable results in economics has been minimal. Previous authors have interpreted this absence of replication as a market failure in which the rational choices of individual researchers do not achieve the same equilibrium as would an omnipotent social planner. In this equilibrium, "respect for the scientific method" is not sufficient to motivate either economists or editors of professional journals to ensure the replicability of published results. We enumerate the costs and benefits of mandatory data and code archives, and argue that the benefits far exceed the costs. Progress has been made since the gloomy assessment of Dewald, Thursby and Anderson some twenty years ago in the American Economic Review, but much remains to be done before empirical economics ceases to be a "dismal science" when judged by the replicability of its published results.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 21

Keywords: Data archives, replication, epistemology

JEL Classification: B4, C1

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Date posted: August 1, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Richard G. and Greene, William H. and McCullough, B.D. and Vinod, Hrishikesh D., The Role of Data & Program Code Archives in the Future of Economic Research (March 2005). FRB of St. Louis Working Paper No. 2005-014B. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=763704 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.763704

Contact Information

Richard G. Anderson (Contact Author)
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - Research Division ( email )
411 Locust St
Saint Louis, MO 63011
United States
William H. Greene
New York University Stern School of Business ( email )
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY NY 10012
United States
212-998-0876 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://people.stern.nyu.edu/wgreene
B. D. McCullough
Drexel University - Department of Decision Sciences ( email )
101 N. 33rd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
Hrishikesh D. Vinod
Fordham University - Department of Economics ( email )
Dealy Hall
Bronx, NY 10458
United States
718-817-4065 (Phone)
718-817-3518 (Fax)
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