Reproducible research in archaeology: Basic principles and common tools

Ben Marwick, University of Washington
Society of American Archaeology Meeting, April 2015

Definitions are in flux

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Computational - Statistical - Empirical
Stodden, V., et al. 2013. “Setting the default to reproducible.” computational science research. SIAM News 46: 4-6.

Motivations: Claerbout's principle

“An article about a computational result is advertising, not scholarship. The actual scholarship is the full software environment, code and data, that produced the result.” - Claerbout and Karrenbach, Proceedings of the 62nd Annual International Meeting of the Society of Exploration Geophysics. 1992

Claerbout's principle in detail

“When we publish articles containing figures which were generated by computer, we also publish the complete software environment which generates the figures” - Buckheit & Donoho, Wavelab and Reproducible Research, 1995.

“The scholarship does not only consist of theorems and proofs but also (and perhaps even more important) of data, computer code and a runtime environment which provides readers with the possibility to reproduce all tables and figures in an article.” - Hothorn et al., 2009 Case studies in reproducibility

Goal is to expose the reader to more of the research workflow

Current workflow in archaeology & many other disciplines

  • Enter data in spreadsheet/database
  • Use Excel for data cleaning & descriptive statistics
  • Import data into SPSS/SAS/Stata for further analysis
  • Use point-and-click options to run statistical analyses
  • Copy & paste output to Word document, repeatedly