Why it’s worth making computational methods easy to use

This article is about an R package, but the ideas about how to make computational methods more accessible are general.

Nature: Career Column
27 April 2023
Why it’s worth making computational methods easy to use
Jean Fan and her team launched a digital campaign using YouTube, GitHub and blogs to make a computational-biology tool accessible to all. Here’s what they learnt.


Painfully true.


It is usually easier to get citations by giving away code or data than by having new ideas.


This may be true. However, the efforts of writing software and of writing papers are not proportional. You can write three good papers in a year, but it can be hard to write a good package in three years. In addition, it is generally much more frustrating (sometimes depressing) and less intelligently enjoyable to write code.

Worse, even if people cite you, they may still think about you as “oh, you simply implemented something existing; useful, and thank you, but there is nothing novel inside; that’s engineering but not research; it is second or third class work; my undergraduate students can do the same in three weeks.” I am sorry for sounding pessimistic, but it is what is happening to me as an applied mathematician.


The contrary is often regretted, for example in that paper:

Laura Soito, Lorraine J Hwang, “Citations for Software : Providing Identification, Access and Recognition for Research Software”, International Journal of Digital Curation, Vol 11, No 2 (2016), doi:10.2218/ijdc.v11i2.390. View of Citations for Software: Providing Identification, Access and Recognition for Research Software

Software plays a significant role in modern academic research, yet lacks a similarly
significant presence in the scholarly record. With increasing interest in promoting
reproducible research, curating software as a scholarly resource not only promotes
access to these tools, but also provides recognition for the intellectual efforts that go
into their development. This work reviews existing standards for identifying, promoting
discovery of, and providing credit for software development work. In addition, it shows
how these guidelines have been integrated into existing tools and community cultures,
and provides recommendations for future software curation efforts.

I am trying somehow the same. All my codes are there.
I also present the data there and the screenshots.
Dislin graphical routines are there as well.