Digital Science: towards the executable paper

The science performed in Astronomy is digital science, from observing proposals to final publication, including data and software used: each of the elements and actions involved in the scientific output could be recorded in electronic form. This fact does not prevent the final outcome of an experiment is still difficult to reproduce. An exhaustive process of documentation can be long, tedious, where access to all the resources must be granted, and after all, the repeatability of results is not even guaranteed. At the same time, we have access to a wealth of files, observational data and publications that could be used more efficiently with a better visibility of the scientific production, avoiding duplication of effort and reinvention.

Reproducibility is a cornerstone in the scientific method, and the extraction of relevant information in the current and future data flood is key in Astronomy. The AMIGA group (Analysis of the interstellar Medium of Isolated GAlaxies, IAA-CSIC) faces these challenges in the FP7 EU project "Wf4Ever: Advanced Workflow Preservation Technologies for Enhanced Science" to enable the preservation of the methodology in scalable semantic repositories that facilitate their discovery, access, inspection, exploitation and distribution.

Astronomy is a collaborative science, but it has also become highly specialized, as many other disciplines. Improvement of sharing, discovery and access to resources will enable astronomers to greatly benefit from each other’s highly specialized knowhow. Some initiatives led by scientists and publishers, complement traditional paper publishing with assets published in more interactive digital formats. Among the main goals of these efforts are improving the reproducibility and clarity of the scientific outcome, going beyond the static PDF file, and fostering re-use, which turns into a more efficient exploitation of available digital resources.

31/10/2013 - 13:30
J. E. Ruiz