Preplication, Replication: A Proposal to Efficiently Upgrade Journal Replication Standards

Despite 20 years of progress in promoting replication standards in International Relations (IR), significant problems remain in both the provision of data and the incentives to replicate published research. While replicable research is a public good, there appear to be private incentives for researchers to follow socially suboptimal research strategies.

The current situation has led to a growing concern in IR, as well as across the social sciences, that published research findings may not represent accurate appraisals of the evidence on particular research questions. In this article, I discuss the role of private information in the publication process and review the incentives for producing replicable and nonreplicable research.

A small, but potentially important, change in a journal’s workflow could both deter the publication of nonreplicable work and lower the costs for researchers to build and expand upon existing published research. The suggestion, termed Preplication, is for journals to run the replication data and code for conditionally accepted articles before publication, just as journals routinely check for compliance with style guides.

This change could be implemented alongside other revisions to journal policies around the discipline. In fact, Preplication is already in use at several journals, and I provide an update as to how the process has worked at International Interactions.