Astrophysics Source Code Library

Making codes discoverable since 1999

Citing ASCL code entries

The ASCL's main goal is transparency of research; one avenue to this is advocating for code citations in papers. Citing codes increases transparency (assuming one can examine the codes), but is also good for code authors, providing a way the value of their work can be demonstrated.

Some codes are described in a paper that can be cited. Those that are, it makes sense to cite that paper, and some code authors offer direction as to how they prefer their codes be cited on their code websites. However, many codes do not have a code paper that describes the code. The ASCL makes codes citable even when they do not have such a paper; most of the citations to ASCL entries I've seen are in the format:

author, year, in Astrophysics Source Code Library, record ascl ID

For example:

Barnes, J. E., 2011, Astrophysics Source Code Library, record ascl:1102.027

It may be helpful to the reader to include the name of the code as well:

The BibTeX ADS provides for the code entry above is:

author = {{Barnes}, J.~E.},
title = "{ZENO: N-body and SPH Simulation Codes}",
howpublished = {Astrophysics Source Code Library},
year = 2011,
month = feb,
archivePrefix = "ascl",
eprint = {1102.027},
adsurl = {},
adsnote = {Provided by the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System}

Please use the entire ascl ID ( in the reference, as that enables ADS to pick up the citation.

If you are submitting a paper which uses a new code you have developed to a refereed journal, you can request the code be added to the ASCL and assigned an ascl ID so this unique identifier can be included in your paper by contacting the editors at

Please note: Some BibTeX styles (.bst), especially old ones, don't support the eprint field, which ADS uses when generating the BibTeX for ASCL and arXiv entries. The lack of support for the eprint field results in a citation that formats the ascl ID incorrectly; for ADS to be able to find and count the citation, the ascl ID needs to be formatted just as it appears in the code entry, e.g. ascl:1010.051 for NEMO. The arXiv site has a list of BibTeX styles that have been updated to support the eprint field, and Norman Gray's nice urlbst code can add this functionality to existing .bst files. Many journals have updated their BibTeX style files to provide support for the eprint field; please consider checking to ensure the style files you use are up-to-date. (Updated 09/04/2013; 03/02/2016)