Research software journals

Luca Ferranti
August 11, 2021

Why research software papers?

Publications is the currency of researchers. To receive fundings or progress in the academic career path (e.g. getting a tenure track positions) researchers are (among other things) judged by their number of publications, the number of citations they have received and on what forum their work has been published. What about those people spending most of their time developing a research software? It is true they are not producing new scientific result, nevertheless their work is fundamental to conduct research in a transparent and reproducible way. How can they get credits from their work being used by several researchers around the world? Sure they can archive their code repository to Zenodo and get a DOI, but several platforms (I'm looking at you Google Scholar) do not count those publications and the citations, as they only value papers? The solution is thus software papers, a paper giving a short description of the software that can be cited by other researchers.

Advantages of writing a software paper

  • Citable, citations are researchers currency
  • increases visibility of the software
  • Review process has to check the software -> improves reproducibility of science

Why not just Zenodo?

  • Not recognized by several citations counting tools, e.g. google scholar

Challenges in publishing software papers

Fair recognition of contributions

  • List of authors fixed, what if someone joins after the paper was published but still does a significant contribution?

How are software papers seen?

  • Unfortunately, in several countries research software journals are still seeen as "minor" publication forums and are not as respected as other traditional journals.

Some research software journals

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