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Department of Geography Geographic Information Visualization and Analysis (GIVA)

Ana Cecilia Quiroga Gutierrez, Daniel J. Lindegger, Ala Taji Heravi 3, Thomas Stojanov, Martin Sykora, Suzanne Elayan, Stephen J. Mooney, John A. Naslund, Marta Fadda and Oliver Gruebner 


The emergence of big data science presents a unique opportunity to improve public-health research practices. Because working with big data is inherently complex, big data research must be clear and transparent to avoid reproducibility issues and positively impact population health. Timely implementation of solution-focused approaches is critical as new data sources and methods take root in public-health research, including urban public health and digital epidemiology. This commentary highlights methodological and analytic approaches that can reduce research waste and improve the reproducibility and replicability of big data research in public health. The recommendations described in this commentary, including a focus on practices, publication norms, and education, are neither exhaustive nor unique to big data, but, nonetheless, implementing them can broadly improve public-health research. Clearly defined and openly shared guidelines will not only improve the quality of current research practices but also initiate change at multiple levels: the individual level, the institutional level, and the international level.