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Science Deserves Better: The Imperative to Share Complete Replication Files

  • Allan Dafoe (a1)

In April 2013, a controversy arose when a working paper (Herndon, Ash, and Pollin 2013) claimed to show serious errors in a highly cited and influential economics paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff (2010). The Reinhart and Rogoff paper had come to serve as authoritative evidence in elite conversations (Krugman 2013) that high levels of debt, especially above the “90 percent [debt/GDP] threshold” (Reinhart and Rogoff 2010, 577), posed a risk to economic growth. Much of the coverage of this controversy focused on an error that was a “perfect made-for-TV mistake” (Stevenson and Wolfers 2013) involving a simple error in the formula used in their Excel calculations. The real story here, however, is that it took three years for this error and other issues to be discovered because replication files were not publicly available, nor were they provided to scholars when asked. If professional norms or the American Economic Review had required that authors publish replication files, this debate would be advanced by three years and discussions about austerity policies would have been based on a more clear-sighted appraisal of the evidence.

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John Gerring . 2011. Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sergiu Gherghina , and Alexia Katsanidou . 2013. “Data Availability in Political Science Journals.” European Political Science 12: 333–49.

Roger D. Peng 2011. “Reproducible Research in Computational Science.” Science 334 (6060): 1226–27.

Carmen M. Reinhart , and Kenneth S. Rogoff . 2010. “Growth in a Time of Debt.” American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 100 (2): 573–78.

C. J. Savage , and A. J. Vickers . 2009. “Empirical study of data sharing by authors publishing in PLoS journals.” PLoS One 4 (9): e7078.

Uri Simonsohn . 2012. “Just Post It: The Lesson from Two Cases of Fabricated Data Detected by Statistics Alone.” Psychological Science 24: 1875–88.

Jelte M. Wicherts , Denny Borsboom , Judith Katsand , and Dylan Molenaar . 2006. “The Poor Availability of Psychological Research Data for Reanalysis.” American Psychologist 61 (7): 726–28.

Jelte M. Wicherts , Marjan Bakker , and Dylan Molenaar . 2011. “Willingness to Share Research Data Is Related to the Strength of the Evidence and the Quality of Statistical Results.” PLoS One 6 (11): e26828.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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Supplementary Materials

Dafoe supplementary material
Appendix A

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