From December 2022 to February 2023, we spoke to research participants who are maintainers, developers, designers, scientists, researchers, funders, Open Source Program Offices and stakeholders – all involved with creating and maintaining Scientific & Research OSS.
We investigated how norms in academic, science, and/or open source working environments affect the choices teams make around their users and different kinds of design interventions how team dynamics and trust affects those choices what teams would need to be interested in or able to prioritize usability in their work. This research is funded by the Sloan Foundation.
Our initial research goals
- Do scientific open source projects think about their users?
- When and how do scientific open source projects prioritize usability & design?
- How do scientific open source software projects currently incorporate user-focused practices? What are the contributing factors that lead to successful adoption of these practices?
- Is language for usability and design used consistently? What do contributors understand about the words “usability” and “design,” and what word choices do they make when describing challenges and opportunities focusing on end-user experience?
- How do the resources, tools and infrastructure in use affect when a project team decides to prioritize usability, and when is that most successful?
- How do creators of open source research software think and act in relation to the users of their software? What are the heuristics that drive the development of their software?
Explore the research findings
The best way to explore the research findings is to start with our USER: Executive Summary. You’ll find a brief overview of what we learned as well as actionable recommendations with relevant findings sections linked to either a finding or a recommendation.
If you’d like to read the findings in a linear format you can then start from the first chapter A look at the ecosystem.
There’s more to discover in the USER project such as articles and writing about our progress through the research, our Positionality as researchers on this project,Zines we distributed at Science and Research OSS conferences, a social systems map and ecosystem map, a Design Readiness Assessment for Open Source Projects to fill out for your projects and finally Design curriculum for Science & Research OSS.