Teaching Replication in Quantitative Empirical Economics
In empirical economics, a twofold lack of incentives leads to chronic problems with replicability: For authors of empirical studies providing replicable material is not awarded in the same way as publishing new irreplicable studies is. Neither is authoring replication studies.
We offer a strategy to set incentives for replicability and replication. By integrating replication studies in the education of young scholars, we raise the awareness for the importance of replicability among the next generation of researchers and ensure that a big number of scientists get incentives to write replication studies: credit points and the prospect of publications at least of working papers already during their time as students.
By raising the number of researchers involved in replication and by providing an infrastructure for sharing their information, on the one hand we help to lower the amount of work researchers need to put into making their studies replicable. On the other hand, we facilitate the dissemination of insights derived from replication studies. This as a side effect imposes a significant threat of detection of irreplicable research, following the cases of recently introduced wiki projects for the revelation of plagiarism. In contrast to previous efforts like the report on the American Economic Review Data Availability Compliance Project, with our project we build the basis for the first replicable review paper on reblicability as we give account of which studies were tested and which results were found in each case. After exploring several dozen studies published in highly ranked journals, we have not yet determined a single case where we see replicability is fully ensured. We identified two main problems: First, not all published results can be obtained from the replication material provided. Second, information about how the used data were obtained from the raw data is hardly ever sufficient.
For our investigation, we gave seminars at several faculties. We set up a wiki project for documenting the results of our replications as well as those found in the literature. In our database, we provide information about more than 1500 empirical studies, especially with regards to the availability of material for their replication.
We invite for discussion to develop standards for how to make research replicable and how to write replication studies. For this we provide information about existing projects that facilitate the sharing of material for empirical econometric research.