Tyler Cowen, at his blogsite Marginal Revolution — after noting that the four AEA American Economic Journals allow for comments to appear on articles’ official webpage posts, but that this feature is not widely used — makes this statement: “One of the biggest problems with “economics as a science” is that economists themselves cannot usually admit how irrelevant so much of the work — even the quality work — turns out to be.” What if, after all this effort to make research more reproducible, economists don’t bother to take advantage of this and investigate whether previous research is valid? What if, as the title to Cowen’s blog suggests, “who really cares?” (To read Cowen’s post, click here).
Some evidence in favour of Cowen’s post is provided in a forthcoming AER Papers and Proceedings article by Duvendack, Palmer-Jones and Reed. Using a conservative measure of replications, they find that the number of published replication studies have levelled off in recent years (see below). This despite the fact that opportunities for publishing replications have improved during this time period.
Perhaps, as a recent Guest Blog from Dan Hamermesh suggests, there is plenty of replication activity that is not being picked up. But the question is fair game: Does anybody really care? Revealed preference via replications should be able to provide an answer.