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Managing Complex Research Workflows with Make

If you’re doing any kind of empirical work in Economics, you probably have a huge, messy folder containing a mix of

  • Data files (.csv, .dta, .xlsx, etc.) in various states of merge-ness and cleanliness.
  • Scripts for creating graphs & figures, producing summary statistics, and computing models. Probably written for Stata, R, or the Pandas data stack1.
  • Files containing written work. These are usually .doc(x) files, but I’ve seen lots of LaTeX lately as well, and being a plain-text format, this is a huge boon to reproducible research.

A really simple research workflow (start with data, make some figures, make some summary statistics, and run some models) might look like the following:

An Econ Workflow

But of course that’s not clear when looking at the .zip file you send your coauthor.

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