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Secret Computer Code Threatens Science

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Although modern science calls for researchers to share their work so that their peers can verify the success or failure of experiments, most researchers still do not share the source code for the software used in their projects. However, a group of researchers is pushing for new standards that require newly published studies to make their source code available. "As computing becomes an ever larger and more important part of research in every field of science, access to the source code used to generate scientific results is going to become more and more critical," says Harvard University researcher Andrew Morin.

Of the 20 most-cited scientific journals in 2010, only three require that computer source code be made available upon publication. The researchers propose that public funding or policy-setting agencies should support the idea of openly sharing source code. In addition, research institutions and universities should use open source software licenses to allow for source-code sharing while protecting the commercial rights to possible innovation spinoffs from research.

"The encouraging thing is that all of the proposals we have made have already been implemented by various journals, funding agencies, and research institutions in one form or another," Morin says.

From Scientific American
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