USU professor David Rosenberg spearheads ASCE efforts to encourage research reproducibility


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Dr. David Rosenberg
Dr. David Rosenberg

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently announced a new program with the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management that will recognize and reward authors who make their research results more reproducible.  As an associate editor at ASCE and Professor in civil and environmental engineering at USU and the Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL) at USU, Dr. David Rosenberg was instrumental in creating this new program. He has been studying the importance of reproducibility in research results and advocating for the concept for years.

“Reproducibility is a core pillar of science, yet very few scientists and engineers make their data, models, and code available or provide directions to reproduce results,” David explains. “We are seeking to change our science and engineering culture so more people make their research materials available and results reproducible.”

Making research materials available and organizing materials so other researchers can reproduce the results can lead to a number of beneficial outcomes.

  • Increase trust in research results.
  • Make research materials available to an increasing number of persons, including students who may extend the work or compare new methods and models with existing work.
  • Reduce future effort to maintain and share materials.
  • Engage scientific readers and allow them to learn by doing, which may also increase the visibility and usefulness of the original research.

The goal is to move more research up the reproducibility continuum:

graphic showing reproducibility continuum

Although making research more reproducible may require a bit more time and effort by authors to organize their research materials and learn new skills to store materials in public, online repositories, this new policy from a major water resources journal will go a long way toward actually accomplishing the benefits. The ASCE policy gives authors incentives to make their results reproducible, such as:

  • Awarding papers with authors who make their results more reproducible a bronze badge if their research materials are all publicly available and a silver badge if an associate editor for reproducibility or reproducibility reviewer reproduces study results as part of the peer review process.
  • Giving authors the chance to publish articles open-access free of charge for the next year in the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management.
  • Making both authors and reproducibility reviewers eligible for journal awards for outstanding efforts in reproducibility.

The review time will be the same for papers with a Reproducible Results section as for those without. Associate Editors of Reproducibility (AER) will review papers at the same time they are undergoing the usual review process. Current Associate Editors of Reproducibility (AER) for the journal include Dr. Rosenberg, and three others with current or past associations with the UWRL: Amber S. Jones (current), Dr. Adel Abdallah (past), and Dr. James Stagge (past), along with other water professionals.

Links to learn more about this new ASCE policy:

The reproducibility policy, including instructions for submitting a manuscript in the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management

ASCE’s press release about their new Reproducible Results Policy

Dr. Rosenberg’s blog post titled 12 Reasons to Make Your Results More Reproducible

Read recent publications on Research Reproducibility by Dr. Rosenberg:

Rosenberg, D., et al., 2020 The Next Frontier: Making research more reproducible. Editorial, J. Water Resour. Plann. Manage., 146(6): 01820002.

Stagge, J. et al., (2019). "Assessing data availability and research reproducibility in hydrology and water resources." Scientific Data, 6, 190030.