Executable Papers - Improving the Article Format in Computer Science

Spearheaded by the Article of the Future initiative, Elsevier is continuously improving the format of the scholarly article to meet the changing needs of researchers and to create an optimal format to communicate research. Through our Content Innovation program, we are bringing improved presentation, better support for digital research material, and useful contextual information to ScienceDirect and other online publishing platforms.

The Executable Paper is a pilot project to explore integration of executable code and data into the traditional scholarly article. It was conceived in 2011, when Elsevier launched the Executable Papers Grand Challenge, looking to the computer science community to address the question of how to reproduce computational results within the confines of the research article.  We worked with the first- and second-prize winners, the Collage Authoring Environment and SHARE, to create online articles that are enriched with embedded or linked executable code. For more information about the SHARE pilot, please visit this page: “SHARE: A Web Portal for Creating and Sharing Executable Research

The Collage Executable Paper:

In close collaboration with the Collage team, we published a special issue on 3D Object Retrieval with the journal Computers & Graphics, showcasing executable research results deeply integrated into the online articles.

In these executable papers, authors had the ability to embed chunks of executable code and data into their papers, allowing their readers to execute that code within the framework of the research article. The result: a seamless user experience allowing readers to explore the computational elements while reading the article. See also the ElsevierConnect article “Executable papers in computer science go live on ScienceDirect

While the code and datasets delivered by the authors remain available with the online publications, the executable environment was decoupled from the online articles on ScienceDirect when the pilot came to an end in 2015.


* The Collage Authoring Environment enables authors to embed chunks of executable code and data into their papers; and allows the readers to execute that code on the underlying computing infrastructure. It combines the narrative of the computational experiment with embedded artifacts that run code and datasets, producing verified results. To learn more, visit: https://collage.elsevier.com/.