Transparency in an Era of Data-Driven Policy: The Importance of Reproducible Research
The advent of cheap digital storage and powerful computer processing has driven an explosion of data collection and empirical research on topics ranging from public health initiatives to stock returns to climate policy. Think tanks such as the Brookings Institution and government entities such as the Environmental Protection Agency encourage and employ data-driven “evidence-based policymaking” to make decisions and recommendations. Empirical research advances our understanding of how the economy works and can improve individual, business, and policy decisions, but only insofar as the research conclusions are accurate and credible. In this Policy Spotlight, the authors review the evidence on the reproducibility of published social science research and discuss how to improve the reproducibility of future studies. They also use one of their own published studies to demonstrate how researchers can facilitate reproducibility.