Jan. 25, 2021 — A task force within the FORCE11 Software Citation Implementation working group, a community of scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers and research funders, led by Daniel S. Katz, University of Illinois, US, has published guidance on citing software, and how to make software citable, for the scholarly publishing community to customise and provide to their individual communities. Software citation can enhance scholarly communication, making the software more accessible to other researchers, through a means that supports credit, reproducibility, collaboration and reuse.
Software, such as computational code, scripts, models, notebooks and libraries, is fundamental to research and yet is often overlooked. The FORCE11 Software Citation Implementation working group believe software citation can elevate the status of software. They recommend that software should be cited in the same way that other sources of information, such as articles and books, are cited, to recognise the significant role of software in the research process. To facilitate this, they provide useful guidance on citing software in their Method Article, published on F1000Research, to be used by all communities and institutions. This follows on from FORCE11’s set of software citation principles, encouraging adoption of a policy for software citation across disciplines.
“Affecting scholarly culture and practices is difficult,” Katz says, “but one strategy is to find a place of leverage where small changes will have a big effect, and journals and proceedings occupy such a place in the scholarly communications ecosystem.”
Co-author, Shelley Stall, Senior Director for the American Geophysical Union’s Data Leadership Program, US, says: “Within the Earth, space, and environmental sciences having access to the software used to create a specific dataset is critical to understanding and furthering our research. Disciplines focused on climate science, natural hazards, and others use software for predictive modelling. Being transparent with these models fosters trust and collaboration in our community and with decision makers.“
In their Method Article, the FORCE11 working group task force provide generic guidance that communities and organisations can adapt to produce their own recommendations, tailoring it to the needs of their audiences and disciplines. The task force ask that any documents created should refer back to or cite the original document.
This guidance supports proper attribution and credit, similar to that of papers and data. It enables validation and reproducibility of findings; supports collaboration and reuse; and encourages others to build on the work, aiding future research and providing a means for other researchers to access the software.
The group recommend that the following information should always be provided when citing software:
- Creator(s): the authors or project that developed the software.
- Title: the name of the software.
- Publication venue: the publication venue of the software, preferentially, an archive or repository that provides persistent identifiers.
- Date: the date the software was published.
- Identifier: a resolvable pointer to the software, preferentially, a PID that resolves to a landing page containing descriptive metadata about the software, similar to how a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for a paper that points to a page about the paper rather than directly to a representation of the paper, such as the PDF. DOIs are preferable, and other examples of PIDs include Handles, RRIDs, ASCL IDs, swMath IDs, Software Heritage IDs, ARKs, etc. If there is no PID for the software, a URL to where the software exists may be the best identifier available.
The task force is now working with individual publishers to move this general guidance into their operation documents and practices. For example, Science’s editorial policies currently ask authors to cite the software central to their findings, and they plan to update this guidance with a link to this new article, and the AMS is in the process of developing a specific software policy and author guidelines that will be in place in 2021. The task force has also begun working on understanding and improving how software citations are captured, encoded, and transferred to the indexing and linking services provided by Crossref, DataCite, and others, where some software information is currently being lost.
About FORCE11 Software Citation Implementation Working Group
The FORCE11 Software Citation Implementation Working Group is a community of scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers and research funders that arose organically to improve research practices and support new ways knowledge is created and shared. Their aim is to bring about a change in modern scholarly communications through the effective use of information technology. Its Journals Task Force is focused on software citations in journals and proceedings.
Source: FORCE11 Software Citation Implementation Working Group