Open black block

Posted in Open Science by ths1104 on 31/10/2010

I am currently studying a computational method proposed 3 years ago in an IEEE paper. The authors have evaluated the efficiency of this method by implementing it under Matlab/Simulink and by comparing the results with the Finite Element Method.

I now need to implement this method for my research. But although the mathematical description is complete, the Matlab/Simulink implementation description shows “black blocks”. Actually these “black blocks” are the key of the implementation. So I will probably need about one month to implement this method correctly if I have to figure out how to code these blocks.

I asked my Professor if it was possible to obtain the simulation file by contacting the authors. Here is his answer:

If the file is not available on Internet, it means that this is important for their research to keep it secret. If you want this file, we need to contact them and to sign a research agreement. It would be better if you can implement this method by yourself. 

At the time I just responded that this is an inefficient way to do research. I really don’t get why if someone publish a paper, the simulation file associated is not made publicly available too. When publishing, a scientist gets credit for all the work presented.  This is just not fair to keep something secret and to publish another paper using it, and to get credit another time for the same work.

If you want to keep something secret because it’s important for your research, don’t communicate about it ! Finish your research and then publish !

I should mention that the government is financing my PhD. It means that next month, taxpayers will pay for me to do something that as already been done. Besides the government will probably finance someone else in the future to do exactly the same work… Research could be more efficient by asking journals to force authors to make their data/simulation/program publicly available when publishing a paper. In the meantime, you can act: be an Open Scientist.

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