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Open Science & Research Services: Open Source

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What is Open Source and How Does It Work?

What is Open Source?

Open source refers to software codes that are open to the public to view, modify, and share. Open source projects or initiatives are based on the principles of open sharing and exchange of codes, collaborative coding, reusability of codes, and community-oriented software development. By changing the source codes of the open source software, programmers can add new features to the software or fix a software bug quickly.

There are many software tools used for conducting research. Some of these are available as FLOSS (Free, Libre, and Open Source Software). You do not need to pay for using them. Examples of open source software used in research are:

  • Reference management: Zotero
  • Conducting studies:  PsychoPy, PsyToolkit, OpenSesame, LabJS builder
  • Data analysis: Jamovi, R, RStudio, JASP, Python
  • Workflow Organization: WORCS

References: What is open source?

Open Science Community Utrecht. Free, Libre, and Open Source Software (FLOSS) for Research.

Why adopt Open Source?

1. Open Source accelerates Innovation
Because open source allows the public to view their codes, it can also help to accelerate innovations. Innovative ideas increase when there are more people participating. As more ideas are tested on the open source platforms, more innovative software applications can be developed for the public to share and use.    

2. Open Source have direct access to customisable codes
As the source codes are visible and editable to the public, programmers can create many generic or customisable modules for their own projects. They can post their software modules in open source repositories for others to use. Other programmers can also adapt these modules further and shared them. This encourages diversity and reusability of software codes.

3. Open Source improves interoperability

Open source software are designed based on open standards. This greatly improves compatibility and interoperability with other standard-based software or Commercial-Of-The-Shelf (COTS) software. 

4. Open Source creates superior code quality and security

As the source codes of open source software are accessible, more programmers know how the software works, their weaknesses, and strengths. There is also a larger pool of skilled programmers to fix the software bugs or security loopholes found.

5.  Open Source helps to reduce costs
Some open source software are available as free. Since the source codes are available to the public, programmer can learn the software and help to fix any bugs quickly. They can also enhance and add new features to the software at no cost, for the benefits of the open source community. People from the open community can also help one another to provide application support. 


Object Computing, Inc.. Open Source Adoption: 5 Ways Your Organization Will Benefit

Open Source Resources

1.  Computing/Programming Languages

This website provides 8 resources to start with open source immediately. These include GitHub Explore, Contributor Ninja, First Contributions, Code Triage, Up for Grabs, Good First Issues, First Timers Only, and Open Source Friday.

List of software projects at Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS).

This website contains digital resources for free and open source software. Hosted by Singapore Computer Society.

This website gives brief information on 7 popular open source tools: V S Code, UltraEdit, LibreOffice, Budibase, Snyk, Node.js, and AngularJS

2.  Data Science/Analysis/Visualisation

A comparative guide to qualitative and quantitative data analysis software.

3.  Artificial Intelligence

For those interested in open source AI, this website contains links to top five open-source AI frameworks: Tensorflow, RNN, Theano, PyTorch, and Caffe2.

4.  Open Science Participation

This website provide links to 14 best open source programs for students to participate: Digital Ocean Hacktoberfest, Google Summer of Code (GSoC), MLH Fellowship, Google Season of Docs (GSoD), Outreachy, Season of KDE, Open Mainframe Project Mentorship Program, FOSSASIA Codeheat, Linux Kernel Mentorship Program, Redox OS Summer of Code, Hyperledger Mentorship Program, Open Summer of Code, Free Software Foundation (FSF) Internship Program, and GirlScript Summer of Code (GSSoC).