The state of reproducibility in the computational geosciences

Figures are essential outputs of computational geoscientific research, e.g. maps and time series showing the results of spatiotemporal analyses. They also play a key role in open reproducible research, where public access is provided to paper, data, and source code to enable reproduction of the reported results. This scientific ideal is rarely practiced as studies, e.g. in biology have shown. In this article, we report on a series of studies to evaluate open reproducible research in the geosciences from the perspectives of authors and readers. First, we asked geoscientists what they understand by open reproducible research and what hinders its realisation. We found there is disagreement amongst authors, and a lack of openness impedes the adoption by authors and readers alike. However, reproducible research also includes the ability to achieve the same results requiring not only accessible but executable source code. Hence, to further examine the reader’s perspective, we searched for open access papers from the geosciences that have code/data attached (in R) and executed the analysis. We encountered several technical issues while executing the code and found differences between the original and reproduced figures. Based on these findings, we propose guidelines for authors to address these.