EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A Community Perspective on Research Software in the Hydrological Sciences 

Robert Reinecke1, Tim Trautmann2, Thorsten Wagener1, and Katja Schüler2
Robert Reinecke et al.
  • 1Universität Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany (
  • 2Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany

Software development has become an integral part of the earth system sciences as models and data processing get more sophisticated. Paradoxically, it poses a threat to scientific progress as the pillar of science, reproducibility, is seldomly reached. Software code tends to be either poorly written and documented or not shared at all; proper software licenses are rarely attributed. This is especially worrisome as scientific results have potential controversial implications for stakeholders and policymakers and may influence the public opinion for a long time. 

In recent years, progress towards open science has led to more publishers demanding access to data and source code alongside peer-reviewed manuscripts. Still, recent studies find that results in hydrology can rarely be reproduced. 

In this talk, we present first results of a poll conducted in spring 2021 among the hydrological science community. Therein, we strive to investigate the causes for that lack of reproducibility. We take a peek behind the curtain and unveil how the community develops and maintains complex code and what that entails for reproducibility. Our survey includes background knowledge, community opinion, and behaviour practices regarding reproducible software development.  

We postulate that this lack of reproducibility might be rooted in insufficient reward within the scientific community, insecurity regarding proper licencing of software and other parts of the research compendium as well as scientists’ unawareness about how to make software available in a way that allows for proper attribution of their work. We question putative causes such as unclear guidelines of research institutions or that software has been developed over decades by researchers' cohorts without a proper software engineering process and transparent licensing. 

To this end, we also summarize solutions like the adaption of modern project management methods from the computer engineering community that will eventually reduce costs while increasing the reproducibility of scientific research. 

How to cite: Reinecke, R., Trautmann, T., Wagener, T., and Schüler, K.: A Community Perspective on Research Software in the Hydrological Sciences , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-801,, 2021.

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