Reproducible research as an aspirational goal for legal metrics

In the sciences, a recent movement is often referred to as “reproducible research.”  What it  espouses is a philosophy of transparency regarding data and analysis – share the data you collected, what you did to it, and how you did calculations and graphics.  Those who conduct surveys, for example, should make every step of what they did clear to others and available to them for review.  They should explain how they gathered their data, what they did to prepare it for analysis, the steps they carried out in the mathematical analyses and then, of course, their conclusions.

 

In the sciences, reproducible research has gone even further to make the actual data sets available to others.  Unfortunately, too many times scientific findings have failed to be corroborated by others.  Indeed, there have been some well-publicized instances of fraudulent research, fake data, and unsupportable conclusions.  That sort of check on quality is possible only if someone else can follow your tracks.

 

To the extent that law department data developed by vendors, consultants, and academics is used to produce findings, reproducible research should be the aspiration.  We may not be able to go so far as to expose the actual proprietary data that is collected, but all of us can go much farther than we do now to explain how the data was collected and what was done with it.  Explain your methodology!  Moving in that direction would improve the quality of findings in the result reliability of results.

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