Abstract

For various reasons, it is important, if not essential, to integrate the computations and code used in data analyses, methodological descriptions, simulations, etc. with the documents that describe and rely on them. This integration allows readers to both verify and adapt the statements in the documents. Authors can easily reproduce them in the future, and they can present the document's contents in a different medium, e.g. with interactive controls. This paper describes a software framework for authoring and distributing these integrated, dynamic documents that contain text, code, data, and any auxiliary content needed to recreate the computations. The documents are dynamic in that the contents, including figures, tables, etc., can be recalculated each time a view of the document is generated. Our model treats a dynamic document as a master or ``source'' document from which one can generate different views in the form of traditional, derived documents for different audiences.

We introduce the concept of a compendium as both a container for the different elements that make up the document and its computations (i.e. text, code, data, ...), and as a means for distributing, managing and updating the collection.

The step from disseminating analyses via a compendium to reproducible research is a small one. By reproducible research, we mean research papers with accompanying software tools that allow the reader to directly reproduce the results and employ the methods that are presented in the research paper. Some of the issues involved in paradigms for the production, distribution and use of such reproducible research are discussed.

Disciplines

Bioinformatics | Computational Biology | Numerical Analysis and Computation