A survey of researchers’ code sharing and code reuse practices, and assessment of interactive notebook prototypes | OSF Preprints

Cadwallader, L., & Hrynaszkiewicz, I. (2022, March 2). A survey of researchers’ code sharing and code reuse practices, and assessment of interactive notebook prototypes. https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/tys8p

Abstract: This research aimed to understand the needs and habits of researchers in relation to code sharing and reuse; gather feedback on prototype code notebooks created by Neurolibre; and help determine strategies that publishers could use to increase code sharing. We surveyed 188 researchers in computational biology. Respondents were asked about how often and why they look at code, which methods of accessing code they find useful and why and what aspects of code sharing are important to them, and how satisfied they are with their ability to complete these. Respondents were asked to look at a prototype code notebook and give feedback on its features. Respondents were also asked how much time they spent preparing code and if they would be willing to increase this to use a code sharing tool, such as a notebook. As a reader of research articles the most common reason (70%) for looking at code was to gain a better understanding of the article. The most commonly encountered method for code sharing – linking articles to a code repository — was also the most useful method of accessing code from the reader’s perspective. As authors, the respondents were largely satisfied with their ability to carry out tasks related to code sharing. The most important of these tasks were ensuring that the code was running in the correct environment, and sharing code with good documentation. The average researcher, according to our results, is unwilling to incur additional costs (in time, effort or expenditure) that are currently needed to use code sharing tools alongside a publication. We infer this means we need different models for funding and producing interactive or executable research outputs if they are to reach a large number of researchers. For the purpose of increasing the amount of code shared by authors, PLOS Computational Biology is, as a result, focusing on policy rather than tools.