If you’re going to do good science, release the computer code too

A very nice aarticle by Darrel Ince has just been posted over at the Guardian. It deals with the climate-gate email theft and the quality of academic science code has just been . An excerpt:

Computer code is also at the heart of a scientific issue. One of the key features of science is deniability: if you erect a theory and someone produces evidence that it is wrong, then it falls. This is how science works: by openness, by publishing minute details of an experiment, some mathematical equations or a simulation; by doing this you embrace deniability. This does not seem to have happened in climate research. Many researchers have refused to release their computer programs — even though they are still in existence and not subject to commercial agreements. An example is Professor Mann’s initial refusal to give up the code that was used to construct the 1999 “hockey stick” model that demonstrated that human-made global warming is a unique artefact of the last few decades. (He did finally release it in 2005.)

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One Response to If you’re going to do good science, release the computer code too

  1. Isaac Starr says:

    IMO, most science, even computer science lacks source code and this impedes the scientific process. One problem is that scientists often need to jump through too many hoops to legitimately publish code. Another is that often science has ulterior motives — for example to make profit with a new algorithm or to further one’s career by publishing results which can only be replicated through closed source code.

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