How do scientists develop and use scientific software?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding


New knowledge in science and engineering relies increasingly on results produced by scientific software. Therefore, knowing how scientists develop and use software in their research is critical to assessing the necessity for improving current development practices and to making decisions about the future allocation of resources. To that end, this paper presents the results of a survey conducted online in October-December 2008 which received almost 2000 responses. Our main conclusions are that (1) the knowledge required to develop and use scientific software is primarily acquired from peers and through self-study, rather than from formal education and training; (2) the number of scientists using supercomputers is small compared to the number using desktop or intermediate computers; (3) most scientists rely primarily on software with a large user base; (4) while many scientists believe that software testing is important, a smaller number believe they have sufficient understanding about testing concepts; and (5) that there is a tendency for scientists to rank standard software engineering concepts higher if they work in large software development projects and teams, but that there is no uniform trend of association between rank of importance of software engineering concepts and project/team size. © 2009 IEEE.


  • Jo Erskine Hannay
  • Hans Petter Langtangen
  • Carolyn MacLeod
  • Dietmar Pfahl
  • Janice Singer
  • Greg Wilson
External organisations
  • External Organization - Unknown
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Computer Science


  • Standardization, Software testing, Resource allocation, Formal education, Engineering concepts, Science and engineering, Making decision, Scientific softwares, Software development projects, Standard software, Computer science, Supercomputers, Computer software selection and evaluation, Knowledge engineering, Engineering, Formal methods
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication[Host publication title missing]
PublisherIEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Print)9781424437375
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes
EventICSE Workshop on Software Engineering for Computational Science and Engineering, SECSE 2009 - Vancouver, BC
Duration: 2009 May 162009 May 24


ConferenceICSE Workshop on Software Engineering for Computational Science and Engineering, SECSE 2009