Abstract for: Quality of System Dynamics Research: Evidence and Recommendations for Model-Based Studies

Forrester once stated that the current quality of system dynamics work is far from reaching the quality of work to which we should be aspiring. In this paper, we take on the challenge to quantify Forrester’s statement by providing an extensive analysis of model-based system dynamics studies. We sample 191 papers from 2006 to 2010 and analyze them by an evaluation scheme with 32 items. Up to our knowledge, this research is the largest assessment of system dynamics papers ever undertaken. The analysis uncovered that the efforts (1) for model validation, (2) for definition of model purpose, (3) for the discussion and analysis of policies, and (4) for model documentation is low both for publications at the conference and in the System Dynamics Review. In general, the quality score is higher for papers published in the journal, however, from an educated perspective, one might wonder that the degree of quality in basic aspects, e.g., definition of model boundary, is not higher in the journal. The paper discusses possible explanations for the situation and provides practical implications. It concludes by ways for future research to arrive at quality improvements in model-based system dynamics studies.