Software is a cornerstone of science. Without software, twenty-first century science would be impossible. Without better software, science cannot progress.
But the culture and institutions of science have not yet adjusted to this reality. We need to reform them to address this challenge, by adopting these five principles:
Code: All source code written specifically to process data for a published paper must be available to the reviewers and readers of the paper.
Copyright: The copyright ownership and license of any released source code must be clearly stated.
Citation: Researchers who use or adapt science source code in their research must credit the code’s creators in resulting publications.
Credit: Software contributions must be included in systems of scientific assessment, credit, and recognition.
Curation: Source code must remain available, linked to related materials, for the useful lifetime of the publication.
The founding signatories are:
• Nick Barnes and David Jones of the Climate Code Foundation,
• Peter Norvig, the director of research at Google,
• Cameron Neylon of Science in the Open,
• Rufus Pollock of the Open Knowledge Foundation,
• Joseph Jackson of the Open Science Foundation.
I was the 312th person to sign. How about joining?
Many papers in climate science present results that cannot be reproduced. The authors present a pretty diagram, but don’t explain which software they used to make it, and don’t make this software available, don’t really explain how they did what they did. This needs to change! Scientific results need to be reproducible. Therefore, any software used should be versioned and published alongside any scientific results.
All of this is true for large climate models such as General Circulation Models, as well—but the problem becomes much more serious, because these models have long outgrown the extend where a single developer was able to understand all the code. This is a kind of phase transition in software development: it necessitates a different toolset and a different approach to software development.
As Nick Barnes points out, these ideas
… are simply extensions of the core principle of science: publication. Publication is what distinguishes science from alchemy, and is what has propelled science—and human society—so far and so fast in the last 300 years. The Manifesto is the natural application of this principle to the relatively new, and increasingly important, area of science software.