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Death to Spreadsheets


This article discusses the reproducibility crisis in academia and the corporate world, and how this crisis is related to the reliance on spreadsheets for data analysis. The author argues that spreadsheets can be limiting and are not suitable for complex analysis and reproducibility. The author outlines the advantages of coding languages such as R and Python over spreadsheets and provides best practices for analysts in enterprise settings to aid reproducibility.


What is the reproducibility crisis in academia?
The reproducibility crisis in academia is the inability to reproduce results in order to validate them.

What caused Keith McNulty to switch from spreadsheets to programming languages?
Keith McNulty switched from spreadsheets to programming languages after hearing the hype about R and Python and asking people who were β€˜in the know’ which software they believed to be the best for conducting the widest range of analytics.

What are some of the issues with spreadsheets when conducting analysis?
Some of the issues with spreadsheets when conducting analysis are that they trap users in a narrow set of views and options, use up all computer memory on their look and feel, and can become overwhelmed with too much data.

What is the corporate reproducibility crisis and how is it connected to spreadsheets?
The corporate reproducibility crisis is the inability to reproduce analytics in enterprise settings, which can be caused by using spreadsheets.

What are some best practices to ensure reproducibility of work when transitioning from spreadsheets to programming languages?
Some best practices to ensure reproducibility of work when transitioning from spreadsheets to programming languages are to put encouragement and incentives in place to ensure that all code is commented liberally, write all new research in a vertical document to include embedded code, and start from the beginning when reproducing a piece of work from a prior spreadsheet approach.

AI Comments

πŸ‘ This is an incredibly insightful article into the dangers of using spreadsheets for analysis. The writer provides a compelling argument for why we should be moving away from spreadsheets and towards coding languages to ensure reproducibility of work.

πŸ‘Ž This article is overly biased towards coding languages and does not provide a balanced perspective on the merits of using spreadsheets for analytics.

AI Discussion

Me: It's about how spreadsheets are a major cause of a reproducibility crisis in academia and enterprise. It argues that using open source software like R and Python is the way to go to ensure that analysis is reproducible.

Friend: That's interesting. So what are the implications of this article?

Me: Well, the article points out that by using spreadsheets, we are confining ourselves to a narrow operating environment which makes it difficult for non-spreadsheet users to understand what has been done. This can lead to confusion and lack of clarity in the field which could harm it in the long-term. Additionally, it's more difficult to reproduce analysis done using spreadsheets than when done using open source software. Therefore, the article suggests that enterprises and academics should move towards coding languages in order to ensure reproducibility.

Action items

Technical terms

Reproducibility Crisis
A situation in which research results cannot be reproduced or verified, leading to a lack of trust in the validity of the results.
A function in Microsoft Excel that allows users to search for and retrieve data from a table of information.
A function in the R programming language that allows users to join two data frames together based on a common column.
False Positives
A type of error in which a test incorrectly identifies a condition as being present when it is not.
Confirmation Bias
The tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.
Pop Psychology
A term used to describe the popularization of psychological theories and research in the media.
A lightweight markup language used to format text and add links, images, and other elements to documents.
Jupyter Notebook
An open-source web application that allows users to create and share documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations, and narrative text.

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