On code sharing and model documentation of published individual and agent-based models

Marco A. Janssen, Calvin Pritchard, Allen Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Being able to replicate research results is the hallmark of science. Replication of research findings using computational models should, in principle, be possible. In this manuscript, we assess code sharing and model documentation practices of 7500 publications about individual-based and agent-based models. The code availability increased over the years, up to 18% in 2018. Model documentation does not include all the elements that could improve the transparency of the models, such as mathematical equations, flow charts, and pseudocode. We find that articles with equations and flow charts being cited more among other model papers, probably because the model documentation is more transparent. The practices of code sharing improve slowly over time, partly due to the emergence of more public repositories and archives, and code availability requirements by journals and sponsors. However, a significant change in norms and habits need to happen before computational modeling becomes a reproducible science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104873
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Agent-based modeling
  • Individual-based modeling
  • Open science
  • Replicability
  • Reuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling


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