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Research project title

Improving the Usability of Scientific Open Source Software

Education level

Master or doctorate


Director: Jinghui Cheng

Co-director(s): Prof. Jin Guo (McGill)

End of display

December 31, 2022

Areas of expertise

Software engineering

Human factors engineering

Information systems design

Unit(s) and department(s)

Department of Computer Engineering and Software Engineering

Detailed description

Along with the open science movement, an increasing number of scientific software projects are now developed under the open source model. Despite their popularity, however, many scientific open source software products suffer from inferior usability. In this project, we aim at investigating methods, techniques, and tools that aim to improve the usability of large-scale scientific open source software through an early engagement of software users. We target three concrete research objectives to address the overall project goal. Particularly, we explore techniques and tools for: (1) scaffolding users in providing more effective usability feedback, (2) identifying valuable user feedback and summarizing their usability-related discussions, and (3) facilitating asynchronous participatory design activities for large-scale scientific open source projects.

The HCDLab ( of Polytechnique Montreal is searching for master or doctorate students for this and several other projects. Prospective students should have a marked interest in software engineering, human-computer interaction, and/or user-centered research. Interested applicants should contact Prof. Jinghui Cheng at

Financing possibility

Financial support is available.