Scientists and their Software Study

Scientists and their Software: A Sociotechnical Investigation of Scientific Software Development and Sharing

NSF Award ACI-1302272

PI: Charlotte P. Lee
Graduate student Drew Paine helped co-author this proposal.

This research project will examine how scientists develop Scientific Cyberinfrastructure Software (SCIS) as part of their day-to-day research practice through a qualitative, ethnographic study of 6 research groups using observations, semi-structured interviews, and document analysis. Despite the importance of SCIS for data-intensive research, too little is known about how scientists use, adopt, and develop scientific software. More research is needed to explore how software, software development, and software sharing practices are, and can be, community products, resources, or practices. Understanding SCIS development and sharing is necessary to ensure continued integrity of datasets shared within and among communities, facilitate the sharing of the tools and practices that are developed using national research funds, and most importantly continue to support a fundamental tenet of scientific research: the open communication of the processes and practices behind published research findings.

The aims of this study are: (1) Investigating how decisions are made and document, classify, and analyze actual practices for using, adopting, developing, or sharing software; (2) Identify scientists’ incentives and disincentives to share software at the local, organizational, and community levels; and (3) Discern the impacts, intentional and unintentional, that scientific cyberinfrastructure software systems have on scientific data and the scientific research process.

Study Human Subjects Information

The following forms are the latest approved by the University of Washington Human Subjects Division. The HSD is reachable at:

The current IRB forms were approved on July 26, 2013.

If you are a member of one of the research groups enrolled in the study and would like to verify your responses please contact Drew Paine using the information provided in any of the above forms. Please note that we cannot guarantee the confidentiality of information sent via email.

NSF Disclaimer

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number ACI-1302272. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.