Replications are pivotal for the credibility of empirical economics. Evidence-based policy requires findings that are robust and reproducible. Despite this, there has been a notable absence of serious effort to establish the reliability of empirical research in economics. As Edward Leamer famously noted, “Hardly anyone takes data analysis seriously. Or perhaps more accurately, hardly anyone takes anyone else’s data analysis seriously.” This is evidenced by the fact that replication studies are rarely published in economic journals.
However, the situation may be changing. Recently, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) released a Statement on the Replicability of Research Results in which it emphasized the importance of replication to ensure the reliability of empirical research. Accordingly, DFG is funding a new scientific journal, the “International Journal for Re-Views in Empirical Economics (IREE)”.
IREE is a joint project of Leuphana University of Lüneburg (Joachim Wagner), the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) (Gert G. Wagner), the Institute of Labor Economics (Hilmar Schneider), and the ZBW. Nobel laureate Sir Angus Deaton (Princeton University), Jeffrey M. Wooldridge (Michigan State University), and Richard A. Easterlin (University of Southern California) are members of the advisory board of IREE.
The International Journal for Re-Views in Empirical Economics (IREE) is the first journal dedicated to the publication of replication studies based on economic micro-data. Furthermore, IREE publishes synthesizing reviews, micro-data sets and descriptions thereof, as well as articles dealing with replication methods and the development of standards for replications. Up to now, authors of replication studies, data sets and descriptions have had a hard time gaining recognition for their work via citable publications. As a result, the incentives for conducting these important kinds of work were immensely reduced. Richard A. Easterlin notes the paradox when he states: “Replication, though a thankless task, is essential for the progress of social science.”
To make replication a little less thankless, all publications in IREE are citable. Each article, data set, and computer program is assigned a DOI. In addition, data sets are stored in a permanent repository, the ZBW Journal Data Archive. This provides a platform for authors to gain credit for their replication-related research.
Up to now, publication of replication studies has often been results-dependent, with publication being more likely if the replication study refutes the original research. This induces a severe publication bias. When this happens, replication, rather than improving things, can actually further undermine the reliability of economic research. Compounding this are submission and publication fees which discourage replication research that is unlikely to get published.
IREE is committed to publishing research independent of the results of the study. Publication is based on technical and formal criteria without regard to results. To encourage open and transparent discourse, IREE is open access. There are no publication or submission fees, and the journal is committed to a speedy and efficient peer-review process.
To learn more about IREE, including how to submit replication research for publication, click here.
Dr. Martina Grunow is Managing Editor of the International Journal for Re-Views in Empirical Economics (IREE) and is an associate researcher at the Canadian Centre for Health Economics (CCHE). She can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Duvendack, M., Palmer-Jones, R.W. & Reed, W.R., 2015. Replications in Economics: A Progress Report, Econ Journal Watch, 12(2): 164-191.
Leamer, Edward E., 1983. Let’s Take the Con Out of Econometrics, The American Economic Review, 73(1): 31-43.
Mueller-Langer, F., Fecher, B.,Harhoff, D. & Wagner, G. G., 2017. The Economics of Replication, IZA Discussion Papers 10533, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).