A Common Protocol for Agent-Based Social Simulation

Traditional (i.e. analytical) modelling practices in the social sciences rely on a very well established, although implicit, methodological protocol, both with respect to the way models are presented and to the kinds of analysis that are performed. Unfortunately, computer-simulated models often lack such a reference to an accepted methodological standard. This is one of the main reasons for the scepticism among mainstream social scientists that results in low acceptance of papers with agent-based methodology in the top journals. We identify some methodological pitfalls that, according to us, are common in papers employing agent-based simulations, and propose appropriate solutions. We discuss each issue with reference to a general characterization of dynamic micro models, which encompasses both analytical and simulation models. In the way, we also clarify some confusing terminology. We then propose a three-stage process that could lead to the establishment of methodological standards in social and economic simulations._x000d_ _x000d_ Keywords: Agent-based, simulations, methodology, calibration, validation_x000d_ _x000d_ Acknowledgements:_x000d_ _x000d_ A Lagrange fellowship by ISI Foundation is gratefully acknowledged by MR and MS.