Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Apr 2012 02:08 UTC
In the News "Modern science relies upon researchers sharing their work so that their peers can check and verify success or failure. But most scientists still don't share one crucial piece of information - the source codes of the computer programs driving much of today's scientific progress." Pretty crazy this isn't the norm yet.
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Source code is not everything
by Neolander on Mon 16th Apr 2012 07:09 UTC
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Well, sure, others can take a copy of my source code anytime they want. I wrote it with a focus on readability by future lab members anyway. But... It's written using proprietary software and a nonstandard programming language, so I can hardly see them doing anything with it without the closed-source software I used, unless they feel highly motivated.

Also, it would take them quite a lot of time to get familiar with the codebase, whereas if they asked me about the core measurement algorithm I could likely explain it on half a page of text, skipping all the annoying details of hardware initialization, GUI code, and so on.

So, I'm not sure that source code would be much more useful than what you find in your typical scientific paper in the end.

Edited 2012-04-16 07:12 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Alfman Member since:


"So, I'm not sure that source code would be much more useful than what you find in your typical scientific paper in the end."

Well I don't read many scientific papers these days, but I would think whether or not source code is useful depends on how instrumental the source code is in making the case for the paper's conclusions.

For example, if the data speaks for itself and doesn't need complex software processing to be understood, then providing source code is more about convenience than an instrumental part of the paper.

If the data were transformed using atypical algorithms and there is no way to understand it directly without software analysis, then of course other scientists would be at a loss to validate the work unless they actually re-implemented the software from scratch. Even if they do, they might be left to guess about implementation details and not be able to validate the paper directly.

Reply Parent Score: 3