Software Search Is Not a Science, Even among Scientists. Hucka, M. & Graham, M. J.
Software Search Is Not a Science, Even among Scientists [link]Paper  abstract   bibtex   
When they seek software for a task, how do people go about finding it? Past research found that searching the Web, asking colleagues, and reading papers have been the predominant approaches—but is it still true today, given the popularity of Facebook, Stack Overflow, GitHub, and similar sites? In addition, when users do look for software, what criteria do they use? And finally, if resources such as improved software catalogs were to be developed, what kind of information would people want in them? These questions motivated our cross-sectional survey of scientists and engineers. We sought to understand the practices and experiences of people looking for ready-to-run software as well as people looking for source code. The results show that even in our highly educated sample of people, the relatively unsophisticated approaches of relying on general Web searches, the opinions of colleagues, and the literature remain the most popular approaches overall. However, software developers are more likely than non-developers to search in community sites such as Stack Overflow and GitHub, even when seeking ready-to-run software rather than source code. We also found that when searching for source code, poor documentation was the most common reason for being unable to reuse the code found. Our results also reveal a variety of characteristics that matter to people searching for software, and thus can inform the development of future resources to help people find software more effectively.
@article{huckaSoftwareSearchNot2016,
  title = {Software Search Is Not a Science, Even among Scientists},
  author = {Hucka, Michael and Graham, Matthew J.},
  date = {2016-05},
  url = {http://mfkp.org/INRMM/article/14035844},
  abstract = {When they seek software for a task, how do people go about finding it? Past research found that searching the Web, asking colleagues, and reading papers have been the predominant approaches---but is it still true today, given the popularity of Facebook, Stack Overflow, GitHub, and similar sites? In addition, when users do look for software, what criteria do they use? And finally, if resources such as improved software catalogs were to be developed, what kind of information would people want in them? These questions motivated our cross-sectional survey of scientists and engineers. We sought to understand the practices and experiences of people looking for ready-to-run software as well as people looking for source code. The results show that even in our highly educated sample of people, the relatively unsophisticated approaches of relying on general Web searches, the opinions of colleagues, and the literature remain the most popular approaches overall. However, software developers are more likely than non-developers to search in community sites such as Stack Overflow and GitHub, even when seeking ready-to-run software rather than source code. We also found that when searching for source code, poor documentation was the most common reason for being unable to reuse the code found. Our results also reveal a variety of characteristics that matter to people searching for software, and thus can inform the development of future resources to help people find software more effectively.},
  archivePrefix = {arXiv},
  eprint = {1605.02265},
  eprinttype = {arxiv},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-14035844,computational-science,free-scientific-software,licensing,research-management,research-metrics,survey,technology-mediated-communication,transparency}
}
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