Teaching Students to Make Their Empirical Research Replicable: A Protocol for Documenting Data Mana
Richard Ball () and
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Richard Ball: Haverford College
2013 Stata Conference from Stata Users Group
This presentation will describe a protocol we have developed for teaching students conducting empirical research to document their work in such a way that their results are completely reproducible and verifiable. The protocol is comprised primarily of creating and assembling a collection of electronic documents—-including raw data files, do-files, and metadata files. The guiding principle is that an independent researcher, using only the data and information contained in these files, should be able to replicate every step of the data management and analysis that generated their empirical results. Students in our introductory statistics classes, as well as our senior advisees, have had a great deal of success using the protocol to document the data processing and analysis involved in their research papers and theses. There is a great deal of evidence [see Ball and Medeiros (2012) and McCullough and McKitrick (2009)] that, across the social sciences, professional norms and common practices with respect to documenting empirical research are deficient. We hope that teaching good practices to our students will help strengthen the professional norm that researchers have an ethical responsibility to ensure that their statistical results can be independently replicated.
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