I was pleased to see yesterday the announcement of a new journal, the Journal of Comments and Replications in Economics. As the name implies, it will publish articles that comment on or attempt to replicate previously published economics papers.
While empirical economics papers have in some ways become more believable over time, it is still rare for anyone to verify whether the results can actually be replicated, and formal comments on potential problems in published papers have actually become less common over time (though Econ Journal Watch has been a good outlet for comments).
The ability to independently verify and replicate findings should be at the core of science. But economists, like most other disciplines, are generally too focused on publishing original work to test whether already-published papers hold up. When we do try to replicate existing work, the results aren’t very encouraging; at best 80% of economics papers replicate.
If we want people to trust and rely on our work, we need to do better than that. The US Department of Defense agrees, and funded a huge project to determine what types of social science research hold up to scrutiny. I’ve been a bit involved in this and hope to sum up some of the results once this semester is over. For now, I’ll just say I’m happy to see the new Journal of Comments and Replications in Economics (and that it is both free and open-access, a rare combo) and I hope this represents one more small step towards economics being a real science.