Treat societally impactful scientific insights as open-source software artifacts


So far, the relationship between open science and software engineering expertise has largely focused on the open release of software engineering research insights and reproducible artifacts, in the form of open-access papers, open data, and open-source tools and libraries. In this position paper, we draw attention to another perspective: scientific insight itself is a complex and collaborative artifact under continuous development and in need of continuous quality assurance, and as such, has many parallels to software artifacts. Considering current calls for more open, collaborative and reproducible science; increasing demands for public accountability on matters of scientific integrity and credibility; methodological challenges coming with transdisciplinary science; political and communication tensions when scientific insight on societally relevant topics is to be translated to policy; and struggles to incentivize and reward academics who truly want to move into these directions beyond traditional publishing habits and cultures, we make the parallels between the emerging open science requirements and concepts already well-known in (open-source) software engineering research more explicit. We argue that the societal impact of software engineering expertise can reach far beyond the software engineering research community, and call upon the community members to pro-actively help driving the necessary systems and cultural changes towards more open and accountable research.

Proceedings of the 2023 IEEE/ACM 45th International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering in Society (ICSE-SEIS)
interdisciplinarity transdisciplinarity academic reform societal impact