or-3. How can we research Openly?

Assessing the Openness of Research Tools


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Image by Daniel Lai, Jeff Proctor, Jing Yun and Irmtraud Meyer / CC BY

Modern scientific and engineering research relies heavily on computer programs, which analyze experimental data and run simulations. Expensive software licenses and proprietary file formats further inhibit the interoperability of data, a key factor when sharing progress and findings. Examining the openness of tools that researchers use around the world can be a first step in making your research easier to share. In addition to free and open-source software (F/OSS), there are open standards being developed to further help the web provide access to Open Science.

Task (20mins)

If you are actively performing scientific research, evaluate one tools you use when performing research. If there is an open-source alternative to the software you have chosen, write a comparison/review of the two of them. If the software you're using is already open-source, briefly reflect on your experiences sharing research between yourself and others.


If you're not actively researching, choose a piece of open source software from the list above and find someone in the Open Science community that is using it. Summarize your findings in a blog post.

  • What kind of research data are they processing with it?
  • Have they published any scripts or hacks for the software?
  • Is there a neat visualization made from their data with one of the open source tools?

Post a link to your blog post in the discussion thread below.

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