As of the start of 2018, the journal Cogent Economics and Finance is introducing a replication section. Cogent Economics and Finance is an open access journal publishing high-quality, peer-reviewed research. It is indexed in Scopus, Web of Science’s Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), and has a B rating in the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) ranking. You can read more about the journal here.
As an online journal, it has the advantage of no page restrictions. This makes it advantageous for publishing replication studies, as many traditional journals are reluctant to publish these given scarce hard print, journal space.
But why introduce a replication section? Traditional journals in economics and finance are quick to dismiss replication studies. The question that every paper faces as it enters to review process is the ‘So what…?’ question – what is the contribution of this particular paper and is that contribution sufficient to merit publication – papers are rejected because the contribution is not sufficiently big, the paper is not novel, the results are similar to those reported elsewhere. Replication papers, therefore, do not stand a chance in this environment. Many papers will be consigned to lie in a bottom drawer, perhaps only given air in a classroom to compare results from published work to that with updated data
Why are replication studies important? Of course, papers that introduce new ideas, new econometric methodologies and new data sets are important. But so too are replication papers! Replication studies refer to those that replicate a previous piece of research but generally under a different situation e.g., with different data or over a different time period. These studies help determine if the key findings from the original study can indeed be applied to other situations.
Replication studies are important as they essentially perform a check on work in order to verify the previous findings and to make sure, for example, they are not specific to one set of data or circumstance. Hence, replication ensures that reported results are valid and reliable, are generalisable and can provide a sound base for future research. Replication studies thus provide robustness to the findings of research work and the interactions that they report. This matters as research can form the foundation of public policy, of regulatory acts and of corporate behaviour. New ideas formed in research today, end up in the textbooks of tomorrow and are taught to future generations. It is therefore important that such research and ideas are fully validated.
Why aren’t traditional journals more open to publishing replications? Even a brief look at the aims and scope of a range of journals in economics and finance (and no doubt beyond), reveal the words ‘original’, ‘new’, ‘meaningful insights’, ‘impact’, innovative’. All of these are, of course, laudable and desired but equally set a very high bar for replication studies, which may then encounter difficulty in finding an appropriate outlet.
Journals in economic and finance are also set in a journal ranking race – lists compiled by the Australian Business Deans Council, the Chartered Associated of Business Schools, the FT – determine the quality of journals, which affect the submission choices of authors as well as their promotion and job prospects. A journal that seeks to promote replication studies may find that such an approach does not help in these journal rankings, which are often determined by perception of quality and whether that journal publishes ground breaking work
The view taken by Cogent Economics and Finance is that it recognises the importance of replication studies and now seeks research papers that focus on replication and whose ultimate acceptance depends on the accuracy and thoroughness of the work rather than seeking a ‘new’ result. We believe such replications should not merely repeat existing work but to extend them through their application to, for example, updated data sets and to provide a comparison with the previously published work. It is not just pushing buttons on a computer software package, but involves a research-focused process, with all the academic rigour that entails.
We hope this will foster a great appreciation of replication studies and their importance, a stronger culture of verification, validity and robustness checking, and an encouragement to authors to engage with such work.
David McMillan is Professor Finance at the University of Stirling and a Senior Editor of Cogent Economics and Finance. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.