Reproducibility, rigour, transparency and independent verification are cornerstones of the scientific method. Of course, just because a result is reproducible does not make it right, and just because it is not reproducible does not make it wrong. A transparent and rigorous approach, however, will almost always shine a light on issues of reproducibility. This light ensures that science moves forward, through independent verifications as well as the course corrections that come from refutations and the objective examination of the resulting data.
The editorials describe Proposed Principles and Guidelines for Reporting Preclinical Research developed this summer and endorsed by dozens of leading scientific journals publishing in the field of biomedical research. The guidelines focus on the issue of reproducibility of scientific experiments and include provisions for sharing data and software.
Nature explains its software sharing policy further in the following statement:
Nature and the Nature journals have decided that, given the diversity of practices in the disciplines we cover, we cannot insist on sharing computer code in all cases. But we can go further than we have in the past, by at least indicating when code is available. Accordingly, our policy now mandates that when code is central to reaching a papers conclusions, we require a statement describing whether that code is available and setting out any restrictions on accessibility. Editors will insist on availability where they consider it appropriate: any practical issues preventing code sharing will be evaluated by the editors, who reserve the right to decline a paper if important code is unavailable.
These changes in publication policies by the leading scientific journals may lead to a fundamental change in scientific standards for reproducibility of computational experiments in different fields.