What is reproducible research?
Reproducible research is the practice of distributing all data, software source code and tools required to reproduce the results discussed in a research publication.
This differs from replication, which is the confirmation of results and conclusions from one study obtained independently in another.
Consider reproducibility as a spectrum of evidence that spans the area between publication only and full replication.
Depending on resources available, different research products can be released to increase the reproducibility.
Tools for reproducible research:
- Version control – Keeping track of changes in your documents is essential. Some software packages have version control built in. Version control systems like git will version control any file. Additionally, they can be combined with GitHub or BitBucket, which allows you to back up your documents on the web.
- Automation – Many computational activities done in research are repetitive. These tasks can be automated using scripts. For those who are not familiar with writing code, graphical software packages can export scripts detailing what was done in the graphical interfaces. Look for software that allows you to keep a record of what you did, so you can repeat your analysis and share it with others.
- Literate programming – Even experts in a particular programming language can have trouble understanding someone else’s code. Literate programming intersperses code snippets, making the analysis reproducible with human readable language.