Introduction

Stencila is an open source office suite for reproducible research.

Most data analysis and presentation in research uses an outdated, inefficient, copy and paste workflow involving spreadsheets and word processors. The result is “static and stale" publications: "static" because they a decoupled from the data analysis methods and "stale" because they can not be reused with new or updated data sets. Research needs to move to workflows for data analysis and presentation that result in “smart and alive” documents. Transparent documents that retain, from inception all the way through to publication, the data provenance and analysis methods. This ensures reproducibility and, just as importantly, enables others to build upon and improve scientific methods.

The calls for research to be more reproducible are growing louder and span domains from cancer research, to psychology to data journalism. But many of the tools which aim to improve scientific reproducibility and transparency have come from the “coder’s” perspective: they require users to write code in templates or interactive notebooks. This can be intimidating for researchers who are not comfortable with coding and limits the uptake of these tools. For example, surveys indicate that the majority of researchers still rely on Microsoft Excel for some part of their research workflow .

Reproducible data analysis is still difficult, especially for non-coders, and many researchers still rely heavily on the tools that they are already familiar with - word processors and spreadsheets. With Stencila we are attempting to lower the barriers to entry to reproducible research practices, and providing a pathway for researchers to learn to code, by developing software tools with familiar, intuitive “office-suite” like interfaces.