Vicky Steeves (@VickySteeves) is the first Research Data Management and Reproducibility Librarian
Reproducibility is made so much more challenging because of computers, and the dominance of closed-source operating systems and analysis software researchers use. Ben Marwick wrote a great piece called ‘How computers broke science – and what we can do to fix it’ which details a bit of the problem. Basically, computational environments affect the outcome of analyses (Gronenschild et. al (2012) showed the same data and analyses gave different results between two versions of macOS), and are exceptionally hard to reproduce, especially when the license terms don’t allow it. Additionally, programs encode data incorrectly and studies make erroneous conclusions, e.g. Microsoft Excel encodes genes as dates, which affects 1/5 of published data in leading genome journals.
technology to capture computational environments, workflow, provenance, data, and code are hugely impactful for reproducibility. It’s been the focus of my work, in supporting an open source tool called ReproZip, which packages all computational dependencies, data, and applications in a single distributable package that other can reproduce across different systems. There are other tools that fix parts of this problem: Kepler and VisTrails for workflow/provenance, Packrat for saving specific R packages at the time a script is run so updates to dependencies won’t break, Pex for generating executable Python environments, and o2r for executable papers (including data, text, and code in one).