I did an experiment last year to see whether I could influence software authors to add either CITATION.cff or codemeta.json files to their repos to make clear how the software should be cited. It mostly didn’t work, but was still a useful exercise. I’ve written a short paper about it that will appear on arXiv tonight (ETA: here) and is available now at the link below.
Abstract: Software citation has accelerated in astrophysics in the past decade, resulting in the field now having multiple trackable ways to cite computational methods. Yet most software authors do not specify how they would like their code to be cited, while others specify a citation method that is not easily tracked (or tracked at all) by most indexers. Two metadata file formats, codemeta.json and CITATION.cff, developed in 2016 and 2017 respectively, are useful for specifying how software should be cited. In 2020, the Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL, ascl.net) undertook a year-long effort to generate and send these software metadata files, specific to each computational method, to code authors for editing and inclusion on their code sites. We wanted to answer the question, “Would sending these files to software authors increase adoption of one, the other, or both of these metadata files?” The answer
in this case was no. Furthermore, only 41% of the 135 code sites examined for use of these files had citation information in any form available. The lack of such information creates an obstacle for article authors to provide credit to software creators, thus hindering citation of and recognition for computational contributions to research and the scientists who develop and maintain software.
Citation method, please? A case study in astrophysics (PDF)
A busy week, but more on the organizing and writing side than actual work on the ASCL itself. One of the organizational tasks was for a Deep Dive webinar on software citation for FORCE2021; this is a dedicated session presented by the FORCE11 Software Citation Implementation Working Group (SCIWG), and will be held on Tuesday, December 7 at 17:00 UTC. Several lightning talks will be presented on the work of the SCIWG, what challenges still exist, and work that is planned in the future, and then the floor will be opened for discussion among presenters and attendees. I wrote a first draft (which I expect is pretty close to the final draft) of a proceedings paper for last month’s ADASS meeting, this for the poster I presented. By “wrote,” I mean “mostly fought with LaTeX,” since that struggle took the majority of the time spent on the paper. On the ASCL itself, seven entries were curated and three new entries were staged.
This past week, fourteen new code entries were put into production, fourteen entries were curated, and three entries were staged. We also sent numerous emails to code authors. We’ve been working on increasing the number of codes added every month, and that effort is paying off, as you can see in the graph (from our dashboard) below. In 2017-2020, we averaged 21 codes/month; this year so far, we’re averaging almost 28 new entries/month.
We currently provide all of our public data in JSON and individual entries in both CITATION.cff and codemeta.json. This past week, we had some discussion with one of our developers about making all of our public data available in codemeta.json. We don’t have a date for doing this yet, but perhaps will make this change in time for the January AAS meeting.
The ADASS conference took place this week. The ASCL presented a poster about SciCodes at the conference. Though ADASS took up most of my time, eight new code entries, three of them submitted by their authors, were assigned ASCL IDs and moved into production. I also wrote and submitted an abstract for an iPoster presentation at the AAS’s January 2022 meeting.
The Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL ascl.net), started in 1999, is a free open registry of software used in refereed astronomy research. Over the past few years, it has spearheaded an effort to form a consortium of scientific software registries and repositories. In 2019 and 2020, ASCL contacted editors and maintainers of academic discipline and institutional software registries and repositories in math, biology, neuroscience, geophysics, remote sensing, and other fields to develop a list of best practices for research software registries and repositories. At the completion of that project, performed as a Task Force for a FORCE11 working group, members decided to form SciCodes as an ongoing consortium. This poster will cover the consortium’s work so far, what it is currently working on, what it hopes to achieve for making scientific research software more discoverable across disciplines, and how the consortium can benefit astronomers.
Download poster (PDF)
This was the week before ADASS! The meeting this year is a hybrid meeting, with some attendees in Cape Town, and the others scattered all over the world. As much as I would love to be in Cape Town, I am attending virtually because of the pandemic. My poster this year involves but isn’t about the ASCL; instead, I’m presenting a poster about SciCodes.
Speaking of SciCodes, this week was our monthly meetings, so I spent time on them, but also had time for working on the ASCL. Random code of the day posts were scheduled through the end of the month and twenty entries were updated. Six new codes were staged, and two were submitted. This coming week, numerous ASCL-involved folks will be at ADASS, and I look forward to seeing them there!
Writing and organizing seemed to be this week’s theme. Melissa Harrison and I wrote and submitted a proposal for a dedicated working group session at FORCE2021 on behalf of the FORCE11 Software Citation Implementation Working Group and secured a number of speakers for lightning talks. I got a rejection notice on Wednesday for a paper I’d submitted in early September; based on feedback from the reviewers and the to-do list I’d started after submitting it, I edited the paper, intending to post it to arXiv. A couple of people encouraged me to submit it to another journal, however, so I did. I also worked on my ADASS poster and paper. Actual work on the ASCL itself included curating seven entries, processing one submission and assigning the code an ASCL ID, and staging three new entries.
As previously mentioned, curating records in the ASCL is done a number of ways. We ensure that every record gets looked at periodically by querying our database as to which records have not been updated since current year – 3, which this year means January 1, 2018. We’ve been busy looking at records and can now say that every record in the ASCL has been examined for health and/or curated in some way (or added) since January 1, 2018.With that done, we will now start checking entries that haven’t been updated since January 1, 2019, because curation never ends.
This week, we also sent emails to authors of codes added in September and staged three new entries. I attended the FORCE11 Software Citation Implementation Working Group meeting on Tuesday, and later in the week, talked with several people about possible poster presentations at upcoming conferences.
One sad note: On September 27, ASCL Central became catless, alas. RIP, handsome little cat; it was a lovely 15 years.
Thirty codes were added to the ASCL this week, seven of which had been submitted by authors. Nineteen codes were curated, mostly through our work in creating the daily random code social media posts; we scheduled twenty-three posts. This coming week, we’ll be sending out registration notices for the new entries along with other usual correspondence, and I’ll be attending a FORCE11 Software Citation Implementation Working Group meeting on Tuesday.