Keeping modelling notebooks with TRACE: Good for you and good for environmental research and management support

Daniel Ayllón*, Steven F. Railsback, Cara Gallagher, Jacqueline Augusiak, Hans Baveco, Uta Berger, Sandrine Charles, Romina Martin, Andreas Focks, Nika Galic, Chun Liu, E.E. van Loon, Jacob Nabe-Nielsen, Cyril Piou, J.G. Polhill, Thomas G. Preuss, Viktoriia Radchuk, Amelie Schmolke, Julita Stadnicka-Michalak, Pernille ThorbekVolker Grimm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The acceptance and usefulness of simulation models are often limited by the efficiency, transparency, reproducibility, and reliability of the modelling process. We address these issues by suggesting that modellers (1) “trace” the iterative modelling process by keeping a modelling notebook corresponding to the laboratory notebooks used by empirical researchers, (2) use a standardized notebook structure and terminology based on the existing TRACE documentation framework, and (3) use their notebooks to compile TRACE documents that supplement publications and reports. These practices have benefits for model developers, users, and stakeholders: improved and efficient model design, analysis, testing, and application; increased model acceptance and reuse; and replicability and reproducibility of the model and the simulation experiments. Using TRACE terminology and structure in modelling notebooks facilitates production of TRACE documents. We explain the rationale of TRACE, provide example TRACE documents, and suggest strategies for keeping “TRACE Modelling Notebooks.”

Original languageEnglish
Article number104932
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Environmental modelling
  • Model documentation
  • Modelling cycle
  • Reproducible research
  • Scientific communication
  • Standards

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