The Stanford Software Survey is an annual survey run by The Stanford Research Computing Center and The Center for Open and REproducible Science (CORES) in the Data Sciences institute. It was originally developed as a collaborative effort in 2020, with the goal to better understand, create awareness for, and ultimately support open source software at Stanford.


Understanding of what open source software is being used and developed Is poorly understood, and at best, disorganized at Stanford. In April 2020, after early discussion with the Stanford Libraries and interested parties in the Data Sciences Institute, as a collaborative effort between Research Computing and the Data Sciences Institute, the first annual “Stanford Software Survey” was developed and distributed by the end of the year 2020.


Why would we want to understand how open source software is used at Stanford? There are several goals for this initiative, including:

  • Better Communication between Labs: If we discover that typically disparate or separate labs are using the same (or similar) software, we can get them talking to one another about collaboration, and solving similar problems.
  • Targeted Open Source Development: If we discover that multiple labs are using some open source software, we can contact them to better understand what features, or bug fixes might be needed. RSE Services can contribute to the software bases on behalf of Stanford researchers.
  • Targeted (funded) Open Source Development: Given the same scenario as #3, if there is software that warrants significant work or new software needs to be developed, the invested labs can pool together resources to fund RSE Services to do the work.
  • Establishing relationships with RSE Services: Even if no funding is involved, by way of submitting this survey and then further interacting with labs, we can grow the RSE Services branding and overall awareness of its availability at Stanford.

There are additional (long term) benefits for having an understanding of research software at Stanford. If we collect the data yearly we can publish an annual “Open Source at Stanford” report, and generally make Stanford a larger player in the Open Source Software landscape. This is really important because we are a large research institution and need to be a leader in this area. I can even see some day having some initiative where we regularly give back to OSS projects that are important to our user base.