I have several questions related to open-sourcing the source code used for a research article.

Is there any research/study that addresses any of the following:

  • What percentage of research articles are provided with their source code? (i.e. the source code is made available somewhere online)
  • What percentage of research articles provide the source code at or before the publication date?
  • What percentage of research articles who promised they will release the source code actually do so?
  • What percentage of research articles provided the source code at some point but then the latter disappeared?

I am mostly interested in the field of computer science > machine learning, and English-speaking venues.

  • 1
    If you're looking for answers based on research/supported by citation rather than speculation and educated guesswork, please specify as much in the question, and add the reference-request tag.
    – ff524
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 3:26
  • 1
    Certainly the algorithm should be published, if that's what's novel about your paper... but the implementation can be argued both ways. On the plus side, it means others can in theory check your code for errors. On the minus side, it means others may use your code without checking it for errors.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 3:27
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    @FranckDernoncourt Great question! However, "how much time does it take to release the source code?" deserves a separate question thread. Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 8:30
  • 1
    Excellent question! I'm surprised that even in 2021 people are allowed to publish papers without original code/data. Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 19:49
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    @JonathanReez especially when funded by the taxpayers. Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 4:36

2 Answers 2


Here's a relevant study on computer science systems research that addresses your first question, "What percentage of research articles are provided with their source code?". The study is described in a tech report:

"Measuring Reproducibility in Computer Systems Research." Christian Collberg, Todd Proebsting, Gina Moraila, Akash Shankaran, Zuoming Shi, Alex M Warren. March 21, 2014.

The authors of this study observed the following protocol to determine code availability:

We downloaded 613 papers from the latest incarnations of eight ACM conferences (ASPLOS’12, CCS’12, OOPSLA’12, OSDI’12, PLDI’12, SIGMOD’12, SOSP’11, VLDB’12) and five journals (TACO’9, TISSEC’15, TOCS’30, TODS’37, TOPLAS’34), all with a practical orientation. For each paper we determined whether the published results appeared to be backed by source code or whether they were purely theoretical. Next, we examined each non-theoretical paper to see whether it contained a link to downloadable code. If not, we examined the authors’ websites, did a web search, examined popular code repositories such as github and sourceforge, to see if the relevant code could be found. In a final attempt, we emailed the authors of each paper for which code could not be found, asking them to direct us to the location of the source. In cases when code was eventually recovered, we also attempted to build and execute it. At this point we stopped — we did not go as far as to attempt to verify the correctness of the published results.

Here is a summary of their findings:

  • Total papers examined: 613
  • Papers that appeared to be backed by source code (not purely theoretical): 515

Of these 515 papers, 105 were excluded from consideration so that the resulting set of papers had no overlapping author lists. That leaves 410 papers, with results as follows:

  • Papers with link to source in the paper: 85
  • Papers not in above category, where source was found via web search: 65
  • Papers where author shared source following email request: 81
  • Papers where author declined to share source following email request: 149
  • Papers where author did not respond to email requests for source: 30

More details of methodology and results, as well as all the data and other materials used in this study, may be found at this web site.

There is an "Anecdotes" section appended to this tech report, which I think you may find very interesting, as it relates to some of the other points in your question. It documents the author's struggles to get authors to give up their source code :)

  • 3
    Thanks a lot! Brilliant study, lamentable results. I need to go shake my head for the next few months. Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 17:24
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    @FranckDernoncourt Re: the suggested edit, I deliberately did not copy images/tables from the TR in this answer because (ironically) I could not find licensing/copyright info for them
    – ff524
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 17:27
  • No pb, I wasn't sure either :/ Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 17:34

From http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/02/missing-data-hinder-replication-artificial-intelligence-studies (mirror):

In a survey of 400 artificial intelligence papers presented at major conferences, just 6% included code for the papers' algorithms. Some 30% included test data, whereas 54% included pseudocode, a limited summary of an algorithm.

(Source: " At the AAAI meeting, Odd Erik Gundersen, a computer scientist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, reported the results of a survey of 400 algorithms presented in papers at two top AI conferences in the past few years.")

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