Standardised and transparent model descriptions for agent-based models: Current status and prospects

Birgit Müller, Stefano Balbi, Carsten Buchmann, Luís de Sousa, Gunnar Dressler, Jürgen Groeneveld, Christian Klassert, Quang Bao Le, James Millington, Henning Nolzen, Dawn Parker, Gary Polhill, Maja Schlüter, Jule Schulze, Nina Schwarz, Zhanli Sun, Patrick Taillandier, Hanna Weise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)
254 Downloads (Pure)


Agent-based models are helpful to investigate complex dynamics in coupled human–natural systems. However, model assessment, model comparison and replication are hampered to a large extent by a lack of transparency and comprehensibility in model descriptions. In this article we address the question of whether an ideal standard for describing models exists. We first suggest a classification for structuring types of model descriptions. Secondly, we differentiate purposes for which model descriptions are important. Thirdly, we review the types of model descriptions and evaluate each on their utility for the purposes. Our evaluation finds that the choice of the appropriate model description type is purpose-dependent and that no single description type alone can fulfil all requirements simultaneously. However, we suggest a minimum standard of model description for good modelling practice, namely the provision of source code and an accessible natural language description, and argue for the development of a common standard.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-163
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


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