I have published papers in the field of mechanical engineering, combustion, engines, etc. Previously I relied on MATLAB for most of my data processing, and C++/Fortran for computations. I duly cite languages used.

Recently I switched to Python for its great comprehensive library, plotting capabilities, support and above all I don't have to struggle with the licensing issues. Now I am worried if citing Python would affect paper acceptance, since it is based on an unconventional approach.

Will using an unconventional programming language increase my chances of rejection?


The short answer is, no. I've never experienced or heard of a reviewer caring about what language was used for code in a science or engineering paper.

In any case, I don't think Python is "unconventional" in 2015. Here are some well-known and widely used codes that can be used for CFD with Python front-ends:

  1. http://pyfr.org
  2. http://fenicsproject.org
  3. http://github.com/clawpack/pyclaw

Note that all of these use Python in combination with lower-level languages for performance.

I'll also mention the educational course CFD Python.

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  • I think Dropbox is written in Python too – Evorlor May 6 '15 at 0:54

Any answer will likely depend on your field and the specific journal or conference you submit to. Programming languages are tools, just like your literature database frontend. As long as your tools are not manifestly unsuitable to the task or to the venue you submit to, I can't imagine anyone holding the tool against you. If you write your high performance computation in COBOL, I'd say this is a case where the reviewer might question your grasp of the field.

This, of course, does not hold if you submit to a journal or conference that explicitly addresses a particular programming language or paradigm. If you submit a paper that exclusively relies on Haskell to the R Journal, you likely will be rejected.

(And Python specifically is sufficiently hip nowadays that I don't think it will raise an eyebrow, except for possible performance problems, as per @aeismail's comment).

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