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
Drexel University - Department of Decision Sciences
Hrishikesh D. Vinod
Fordham University - Department of Economics
FRB of St. Louis Working Paper No. 2005-014B
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
Date posted: August 1, 2005
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