Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Where free software and peer-review software differ

In this essay I point out while free software and scientific peer-review have many characteristics in common, they come from different philosophies. There are requirements for free software (free ability to redistribute modified code to anyone) which are not essential to effective peer review, and there are requirements for effective peer review (getting access to the source code in order to evaluate it) which are directly contrary to the free software ideals of the GNU project (which lets you distribute free software for any price you may wish).

Here is the place to leave comments about that essay.


Katalog Firm said...
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ssorgatem said...

If we are talking about GPL'd software, you can sell it at any price, but the source code must be available free of charge at least until 3 years after the release of the software built on it, AFAIK.

That does'nt sound like quite a big deal on computers, where a skilled user could build the software from source and then offer it for free. It gets completely different on platforms where the user is rarely able to build the software from source for that platform (like in mobile platforms).

Andrew Dalke said...

Hi ssorgatem.

I don't understand your comment. My point is that if you believe that assess to the source code is an essential part of peer review in science, then you almost certainly believe that it should be available for some low cost, if not no cost. The FSF asserts that part of the freedom in free software is the freedom to make money, and you should not be limited in the price you set for your software.

These two views are in opposition.

It has nothing to do with access to the source code (only to the purchaser, and only if not provided with the binary at the point of acquisition) after the sale, which seems to be what your comment is about.

Watermark Images said...
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