Project TIER: Resources that Promote the Transparency and Replicability of Empirical Data
Replicability and organization of data are critical to methodologically sound research projects. The CCTS Biostatistical Design & Analysis Core is often asked how to best organize the files for a new research project. Project TIER (Teaching Integrity in Empirical Research) and its DRESS (Documenting Empirical Research in the Social Sciences) Protocol provide a turnkey answer to these challenges that was developed with support from the Sloan Foundation and represents a consensus of data management experts.
What is Project Tier?
Project TIER (Teaching Integrity in Empirical Research) promotes the integration of principles and practices related to transparency and replicability in the research training of social scientists. They develop methods and tools for enhancing research transparency that are specially designed to serve the needs of undergraduate and graduate students, and disseminate them to faculty who teach courses on quantitative methods or supervise student research, as well as to students interested in adopting them independently. Their goal is to reach a day in which training in research transparency becomes standard and ubiquitous in the education of social scientists.
At ProjectTier.org, you can find detailed information on the specifications and process guidelines for the TIER protocol. The process guidelines will outline a workflow for your entire research project that will help you keep organized and enhance your own understanding of the data processing and analysis you do. The website even includes a demo project consisting of a "hypothetical" research paper, accompanied by complete replication documentation that meets the standards of the TIER Protocol Specifications.
The DRESS (Documenting Empirical Research in the Social Sciences) Protocol is a set of standards for replication documentation that embodies the same principles that underlie the TIER Protocol. The DRESS Protocol, however, is tailored to suit the purposes of professional researchers, rather than for use by students during their research training. Some elements of the TIER Protocol that serve purely pedagogical purposes are omitted from the DRESS Protocol, and other elements that are typically not relevant to student projects have been added.
The DRESS Protocol is consistent with most journal policies and other existing guidelines for documentation of empirical research, but includes some additional features. In particular, it explicitly discusses the purposes for which replication documentation can be used and enumerates several principles to which documentation must adhere if it is to serve those purposes effectively. The DRESS Protocol also provides more structure and detail than is found elsewhere; this greater structure is intended to give authors who are preparing the documentation for their papers a clearer idea of what is expected, and to help readers who are interested in reproducing a study know what they will find when they begin exploring the replication documentation.