Doing quality simulation research

Unless the Journal of Irreproducible Results is your target, you should check out this paper:

Rahmandad, H., Sterman J., (forthcoming). Reporting Guidelines for Simulation-based Research in Social Sciences

Abstract: Reproducibility of research is critical for the healthy growth and accumulation of reliable knowledge, and simulation-based research is no exception. However, studies show many simulation-based studies in the social sciences are not reproducible. Better standards for documenting simulation models and reporting results are needed to enhance the reproducibility of simulation-based research in the social sciences. We provide an initial set of Reporting Guidelines for Simulation-based Research (RGSR) in the social sciences, with a focus on common scenarios in system dynamics research. We discuss these guidelines separately for reporting models, reporting simulation experiments, and reporting optimization results. The guidelines are further divided into minimum and preferred requirements, distinguishing between factors that are indispensable for reproduction of research and those that enhance transparency. We also provide a few guidelines for improved visualization of research to reduce the costs of reproduction. Suggestions for enhancing the adoption of these guidelines are discussed at the end.

I should add that this advice isn’t just for the social sciences, nor just for research. Business and public policy models developed by consultants should be no less replicable, even if they remain secret. This is not only a matter of intellectual honesty; it’s a matter of productivity (documented components are easier to reuse) and learning (if you don’t keep track of what you do, you can’t identify and learn from mistakes when reality evolves away from your predictions).

This reminds me that I forgot to plug my annual advice on good writing for the SD conference:

I’m happy to report that the quality of papers in the thread I see was higher than usual (or at least the variance was lower – no plenary blockbuster, but also no dreadful, innumerate, ungrammatical horrors to wade through).

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