According to Levenstein (2017, 2018), the field of economics has a long history of interest in reproducibility and replicability starting in the 1980s. Early studies (e.g., Dewald, 1986) found low replication rates in published research. The field also has a long history of data sharing, with policies starting as early as 2003. By 2015, 27 journals required data sharing. Ten journals encourage replication studies.

In 2018, the American Economics Association (AEA) appointed a data editor in part to improve access to and reproducibility of published researcher. Economics faces additional challenges due to the use of commercial data, requiring waivers because of both IP and confidentiality concerns. While macroeconomic research tends to use public data disseminated by government agencies and central banks, microeconomics research tends to rely on private/confidential administrative data. Data packages that are published are typically stored as supplemental information on via the AEA web platform. AEA is working with ICPSR to improve access to commercial data. AEA currently has over 1400 data packages, many of which also contain software/code.

Example: American Economics Association

Kingi et al (2018) report the results of an effort to reproduce a subset of studies published by the AEA using only the information provided by the authors during submission. The AEA is interested in performing after-the-fact verification of published code and data and is exploring the adoption of workflows similar to those used by the American Journal of Political Science (AJPS). They have over 300 examples of validated data/code packages.

A major challenge for the AEA is the widespread use of commercial statistical software. Over 70% of submitted packages require Stata or Matlab. SAS is widely used by the Census Bureau.

User Stories

Based on the above cases, we see the following user stories.

  • Ex-post validation of AEA deposits: The AEA data editor (or graduate student) should be able to perform after-the-fact validation of published data/code packages by importing them into Whole Tale.
  • Stata support: An AEA researcher should be able to publish a Tale based on the Stata environment. A reviewer or user should be able to re-run the Tale in Stata.
  • Matlab support: An AEA researcher should be able to publish a Tale based on the Matlab environment. A reviewer or user should be able to re-run the Tale in Matlab.
  • SAS support: An AEA researcher should be able to publish a Tale based on the SAS environment. A reviewer or user should be able to re-run the Tale in SAS.
  • Register Zip files: AEA data packages are published as zip files. A researcher should be able to register a zip file from aeaweb.
  • ICPSR integration: Whole Tale should support registering data from and publishing to ICPSR.
  • Private WT instance: WT platform can be deployed locally with more restrictive access.
  • ICPSR/Dataverse: Dataverse holds “replication datasets” created from ICPSR data that don’t link to the original data at ICPSR. The articles may not even cite the data at ICPSR, so the original authors of the data don’t get any credit. The authors of the article should get credit for their code, but not for the data.
  • Multiple applications: AEA data packages often contain a mixture of code – R and Stata or R and Matlab, etc. that require the ability to run not just R or Stata, but both in the same image.
  • Ability to choose base software version: Some Tales will require newer/older versions of R
  • Metadata/classification Published packages should support domain and journal metadata formats (i.e., JEL


AEA. (2019). Usage Data.

William G. Dewald, Jerry G. Thursby, Richard G. Anderson. Replication in Empirical Economics: The Journal of Money, Credit and Banking Project The American Economic Review, Vol. 76, No. 4 (Sep., 1986), pp. 587-603.

Kingi, Hautahi; Vilhuber, Lars; Herbert, Sylverie; Stanchi, Flavio. 2018. The Reproducibility of Economics Research: A Case Study. Preprint -

Levenstein, Margaret (2017). Presentation to the NAS Committee on Replicability and Reproducibility in Science.

Levenstein, Margaret (2018). Reproducibility and Replicability in Economic Science.,+2018.pdf?sequence=