By David Hales
A proposal for yet another journal? My first reaction to any such suggestion is to argue that we already have far too many journals. However, hear me out.
My vision is for a modelling journal that is far more rigorous than what we currently have. It would be aimed at work in which a significant aspect of the result is derived from the output of a complex system type computer model in an empirical way.
I propose that the journal would incorporate, as part of the reviewing process, at least one replication of the model by an independent reviewer. Hence models would be verified as independently replicated before being published.
In addition the published article would include an appendix detailing the issues raised during the replication process.
Carrying out such an exercise would almost certainly lead to clarifications of the original article such that it would easier to replicate by others and give more confidence in the results. Both readers and authors would gain significantly from this.
I would be much more willing to take modelling articles seriously if I knew they had already been independently replicated.
Here is a question that immediately springs to mind: replicating a model is a time consuming and costly business requiring significant expertise. Why would a reviewer do this?
One possible solution would be to provide an incentive in the following form. Final articles published in the journal would include the replicators as co-authors of the paper – specifically credited with the independent replication work that they write up in the appendix.
This would mean that good, clear and interesting initial articles would be desirable to replicate since the reviewer / replicator would obtain citations.
This could be a good task for an able graduate student allowing them to gain experience, contacts and citations.
Why would people submit good work to such a journal? This is not as easy to answer. It would almost certainly mean more work from their perspective and a time delay (since replication would almost certainly take more time than traditional review). However there is the benefit of actually getting a replication of their model and producing a final article that others would be able to engage with more easily.
Also I think it would be necessary, given the above aspects, to put quite a high bar on what is accepted for review / replication in the first place. Articles reviewed would have to present significant and new results in areas of fairly wide interest. Hence incremental or highly specific models would be ruled out. Also articles that did not contain enough detail to even attempt a replication would be rejected on that basis. Hence one can envisage a two stage review process where the editors decide if the submitted paper is “right” for a full replication review before soliciting replications.
My vision is of a low output, high quality, high initial rejection journal. Perhaps publishing 3 articles every 6 months. Ideally this would support a reputation for high quality over time.
Hales, D. (2018) Vision for a more rigorous “replication first” modelling journal. Review of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 5th November 2018. https://rofasss.org/2018/11/05/dh/