StatTag: New Tool for Reproducible Research

Guest Post: Richard Ball, Associate Professor of Economics, Haverford College & Director, Project TIER

R Markdown is a great tool.  It ensures reproducibility by incorporating both text and chunks of R code in a single source file that can be rendered into a formatted report, with results generated by the R code appearing at the appropriate places in the text.

The growing popularity of R Markdown is a bright spot in the landscape of reproducible research.  But an impediment to adoption has been the fact that users of statistical software other than R have found it difficult or impossible to integrate R Markdown into their workflows.  For users of Stata and SAS, a new tool called StatTag offers a solution to this problem.

StatTag is an add-on to Word (so committed LaTeX aficionados and anti-Microsoft zealots can stop reading now).  It does not operate in the same kind of source file-output file paradigm as R Markdown.  Instead, the user links a Stata or SAS command file to a Word document, and then inserts tags to identify particular outputs generated by the command file and to specify where they are displayed in the Word document.  Like R Markdown, this procedure allows for dynamic updating of documents when changes are made to the code or the underlying data, and avoids the need to cut and paste computational results into the text of the report.

The current version of StatTag is compatible with Stata and SAS, and runs only on a Windows operating system.  Versions that are compatible with R and that run on Macs are scheduled to be released soon.  It is available for free, under the MIT License for software.

What do you think? Do you have experience with StatTag, or do you use other tools for a reproducible workflow that you’d like to share on the BITSS blog? Leave a comment below or get in touch with the BITSS team.

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