Peer, Limor, Lilla Orr, Alexander Coppock. 2020. Active Maintenance: A Proposal for the Long-term Computational Reproducibility of Scientific Results. Unpublished manuscript.


Computational reproducibility, or the ability to reproduce analytic results of a scientific study on the basis of publicly available code and data, is a shared goal of many researchers, journals, and scientific communities. Researchers in many disciplines including political science have made strides towards realizing that goal. A new challenge, however, has arisen. Code too often becomes obsolete within just a few years. We document this problem with a random sample of studies posted to the ISPS Data Archive; we encountered nontrivial errors in seven of 20 studies. In line with similar proposals for the long-term maintenance of data and commercial software, we propose that researchers dedicated to computational reproducibility should have a plan in place for ``active maintenance’’ of their analysis code. We offer concrete suggestions for how data archives, journals, and research communities could encourage and reward the active maintenance of scientific code and data.