Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

On open science vs. free software

Cameron Neylon, Open Data, Open Source, Open Process: Open Research, Science in the open, April 2, 2009. (Thanks to Glyn Moody.)

... It is easy to lose sight of the fact that for most researchers software is a means to an end. For the Open Researcher what is important is the ability to reproduce results, to criticize and to examine. Ideally this would include every step of the process, including the software. But for most issues you donít need, or even want, to be replicating the work right down to the metal. You wouldnít after all expect a researcher to be forced to run their software on an open source computer, with an open source chipset. You arenít necessarily worried what operating system they are running. What you are worried about is whether it is possible read their data files and reproduce their analysis. ...

Open Data is crucial to Open Research. If we donít have the data we have nothing to discuss. Open Process is crucial to Open Research. If we donít understand how something has been produced, or we canít reproduce it, then it is worthless. Open Source is not necessary, but, if it is done properly, it can come close to being sufficient to satisfy the other two requirements. However it canít do that without Open Standards supporting it for documenting both file types and the software that uses them. ...