Replication, validation and extension of experiments are crucial for scientific progress. Computational experiments are scriptable and should be easy to reproduce. However, computational analyses are designed and run in a specific computing environment, which may be difficult or impossible to match using written instructions. We report the development of continuous analysis, a workflow that enables reproducible computational analyses. Continuous analysis combines Docker, a container technology akin to virtual machines, with continuous integration, a software development technique, to automatically rerun a computational analysis whenever updates or improvements are made to source code or data. This enables researchers to reproduce results without contacting the study authors. Continuous analysis allows reviewers, editors or readers to verify reproducibility without manually downloading and rerunning code and can provide an audit trail for analyses of data that cannot be shared.
Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis (GEOBIA) mostly uses proprietary software,but the interest in Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) for GEOBIA is growing. This interest stems not only from cost savings, but also from benefits concerning reproducibility and collaboration. Technical challenges hamper practical reproducibility, especially when multiple software packages are required to conduct an analysis. In this study, we use containerization to package a GEOBIA workflow in a well-defined FOSS environment. We explore the approach using two software stacks to perform an exemplary analysis detecting destruction of buildings in bi-temporal images of a conflict area. The analysis combines feature extraction techniques with segmentation and object-based analysis to detect changes using automatically-defined local reference values and to distinguish disappeared buildings from non-target structures. The resulting workflow is published as FOSS comprising both the model and data in a ready to use Docker image and a user interface for interaction with the containerized workflow. The presented solution advances GEOBIA in the following aspects: higher transparency of methodology; easier reuse and adaption of workflows; better transferability between operating systems; complete description of the software environment; and easy application of workflows by image analysis experts and non-experts. As a result, it promotes not only the reproducibility of GEOBIA, but also its practical adoption.
According to a recent survey conducted by the journal Nature, a large percentage of scientists agrees we live in times of irreproducibility of research results . They believe that much of what is published just cannot be trusted. While the results of the survey may be biased toward respondents with interest in the area of reproducibility, a concern is recognizable. Goodman et al. discriminate between different aspects of reproducibility and dissect the term into ‘material reproducibility’ (provision of sufficient information to enable repetition of the procedures), ‘results reproducibility’ (obtaining the same results from an independent study; formerly termed ‘replicability’) and ‘inferential reproducibility’ (drawing the same conclusions from separate studies) . The validity of data is threatened by many issues, among others by poor utility of public information, poor protocols and design, lack of standard analytical, clinical practices and knowledge, conflict of interest and other biases, as well as publication strategy.
Reproducibility is the idea that an experiment can be repeated by another scientist and they will get the same result. It is important to show that the claims of any experiment are true and for them to be useful for any further research. However, science appears to have an issue with reproducibility. A survey by Nature revealed that 52% of researchers believed there was a "significant reproducibility crisis" and 38% said there was a "slight crisis". We asked three experts how they think the situation could be improved.
Supplementary Materials for the article, including datasets for the analyses, the analyses reports, R scripts to reproduce them and the article's figures data.
The theoretical physicists Junior Professor Fabian Pauly and his postdoc Dr. Safa G. Bahoosh now succeeded in a team of experimental physicists and chemists in demonstrating a reliable and reproducible single molecule switch. The basis for this switch is a specifically synthesized molecule with special properties. This is an important step towards realising fundamental ideas of molecular electronics. The results were published in the online journal Nature Communications on 9 March 2017.