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Hart - Towards a more reproducible ecology

Borregaard, M. K., Hart, E. M. (2018) Towards a more reproducible ecology. httpwww.ecography.orgblogtowards-more-reproducible-ecology, 1–9.

This is an editorial intro to the special edition of ecography dedicated to reproducible methods in ecology..

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State of ecological research and analyses has changed.


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A new paradigm has emerged, where individual scientists download, curate and share large amounts of data and analyse it using reproducible software packages and scripts written in languages such as R, Python and Julia.


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Also, ecology may face particular challenges in reproducibility because data collection is often context dependent, and because there are few established standards for storing metadata and facilitating study replication.


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The keys to a greater level of reproducibility in ecology are to establish analytical protocols that are robust and transparent, to faithfully document the analytical process including any failed attempts, and to ensure that the storage and acquisition of data is documented and includes the appropriate metadata.


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At the discipline level, we can improve the reproducibility of ecology by establishing robust, transparent analytical protocols. This includes documenting the analytical process, including failures as well as successes, while data acquisition and storage is fully documented, and includes sufficient metadata.


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These tools exemplify different ways of establishing documentable and standardised workflows, where the process of data acquisition, analysis and graphical output is integrated and documented throughout, and collaborative work is integrated into the software itself.


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In doing so, the tools contribute to a more reproducible ecology in which analyses rest on solid, error-checked software, without stymieing the free growth of creative analytical ideas; and where documentation and metadata support a solid foundation under today’s fast-moving integrative ecological research field.