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Epistemic issues in computational reproducibility: software as the elephant in the room

Hocquet, Alexandre and Wieber, Frederic (2021) Epistemic issues in computational reproducibility: software as the elephant in the room. European Journal for Philosophy of Science. ISSN 1879-4912

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Abstract

Computational reproducibility (i.e. issues of reproducibility stemming from the computer as a scientific tool) possesses its own dynamics and narratives of crisis. Alongside the difficulties of computing as an ubiquitous yet complex scientific activity, computational reproducibility suffers from a naive expectancy of total reproducibility and a moral imperative to embrace the principles of free software as a non-negotiable epistemic virtue. We argue that the epistemic issues at stake in actual practices of computational reproducibility are best unveiled by focusing on software as a pivotal concept, one that is surprisingly often overlooked in accounts of reproducibility issues. Software is not only about designing and coding but also about maintaining, supporting, distributing, licensing, and governance; it is not only about developers but also about users. We focus on openness debates among computational chemists involved in molecular modeling software packages as empirical grounding for our argument. We then identify and analyse four epistemic characteristics (transparency, consistency, sustainability and inclusivity) as key to the role of software in computational reproducibility.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Hocquet, Alexandre0000-0001-6361-5780
Wieber, Frederic
Keywords: Computational reproducibility Software Computational chemistry Transparency Consistency Sustainability Inclusivity
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
Specific Sciences > Computer Science
General Issues > Computer Simulation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Science and Society
Depositing User: M Alexandre Hocquet
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2021 03:22
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2021 03:22
Item ID: 18925
Journal or Publication Title: European Journal for Philosophy of Science
Publisher: Springer
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13194-021-00362-9
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/s13194-021-00362-9
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
Specific Sciences > Computer Science
General Issues > Computer Simulation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Science and Society
Date: 17 April 2021
ISSN: 1879-4912
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18925

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