SimTech Data and Software Steward Sibylle Hermann together with Jörg Fehr, Institute of Engineering and Computational Mechanics & SimTech, has just published a paper on “Documenting research software in engineering science” in Scientific Reports by Nature.
The reuse of research software needs good documentation, however, the documentation in particular is often criticized. Especially in non-IT specific disciplines, the lack of documentation is attributed to the lack of training, the lack of time or missing rewards. This article addresses the hypothesis that scientists do document but do not know exactly what they need to document, why, and for whom. In order to evaluate the actual documentation practice of research software, we examined existing recommendations, and we evaluated their implementation in everyday practice using a concrete example from the engineering sciences and compared the findings with best practice examples. To get a broad overview of what documentation of research software entailed, we defined categories and used them to conduct the research. Our results show that the big picture of what documentation of research software means is missing. Recommendations do not consider the important role of researchers, who write research software, whose documentation takes mainly place in their research articles. Moreover, we show that research software always has a history that influences the documentation.
Hermann, S., Fehr, J. Documenting research software in engineering science. Sci Rep 12, 6567 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-10376-9