Digital Science: Reproducibility and Visibility in Astronomy
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The science done in Astronomy is digital science, from observing proposals to final publication, to data and software used: each of the elements and actions involved in scientific output could be recorded in electronic form. This fact does not prevent the final outcome of an experiment is still difficult to reproduce. This procedure can be long, tedious, not easily accessible or understandable, even to the author. At the same time, we have a rich infrastructure of files, observational data and publications. This could be used more efficiently if we reach greater visibility of the scientific production, which avoids duplication of effort and reinvention.
Reproducibility is a cornerstone in scientific method, and 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, http://amiga.iaa.es) faces these two challenges in the European project "Wf4Ever: Advanced technologies for enhanced preservation workflow Science" to enable the preservation of the methodology in scalable semantic repositories to facilitate their discovery, access, inspection, exploitation and distribution. These repositories store the experiments on "Research Objects" whose main constituents are digital scientific workflows. These provide a comprehensive view and clear scientific interpretation of the experiment as well as the automation of the method, going beyond the usual pipelines that normally end up in data processing.
The quantitative leap in volume and complexity of the next generation of archives will need analysis and data mining tasks to live closer to the data, in computing and distributed storage environments, but they should also be modular enough to allow customization from scientists and be easily accessible to foster their dissemination among the community. Astronomy is a collaborative science, but it has also become highly specialized, as many other disciplines. Sharing, preservation, discovery and a much simplified access to resources in the composition of scientific workflows will enable astronomers to greatly benefit from each other’s highly specialized knowhow, they constitute a way to push Astronomy to share and publish not only results and data, but also processes and methodologies.
We will show how the use of scientific workflows can help to improve the reproducibility of the experiment and a more efficient exploitation of astronomical archives, as well as the visibility of the scientific methodology and its reuse.
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