The case for open computer programs

Nature. 2012 Feb 22;482(7386):485-8. doi: 10.1038/nature10836.


Scientific communication relies on evidence that cannot be entirely included in publications, but the rise of computational science has added a new layer of inaccessibility. Although it is now accepted that data should be made available on request, the current regulations regarding the availability of software are inconsistent. We argue that, with some exceptions, anything less than the release of source programs is intolerable for results that depend on computation. The vagaries of hardware, software and natural language will always ensure that exact reproducibility remains uncertain, but withholding code increases the chances that efforts to reproduce results will fail.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Editorial Policies
  • Information Dissemination*
  • Intellectual Property
  • Periodicals as Topic / standards
  • Publishing / standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research / standards*
  • Research Design
  • Software*