Astrophysics Source Code Library

Making codes discoverable since 1999


Scope and Editorial policy

The short version: We register, with discretion, all suitable source codes used in astro research that are open for examination.

The ASCL registers software that has source code available for immediate download for examination and is used in:

  •  peer-reviewed astronomy/astrophysics/solar system research, or
  •  astronomy/astrophysics/solar system research submitted for peer review, or
  •  astronomy/astrophysics/solar system research published as an accepted thesis.

Its focus is on researcher-written software, not commercially available packages. Code does not have to be in the public domain for inclusion. The ASCL includes research codes with any licensing scheme, ranging from public domain to any open source (e.g., BSD, GPL) to copyrighted software, but the source code must be at least available to download for examination. It does not register codes that have not been used in research, software available only in binary, nor web services for which the source code is not also available for download. Though the ASCL seeks to include all suitable software, it reserves the right to decline to register a submission; it also reserves the right to edit submissions, which is usually done to bring the entry into compliance with the ASCL's style guide.

Software authorship policy

The short version: The final arbiter as to who is listed as an author in an ASCL entry is the lead software author, not the ASCL.

ASCL entries are created through submissions by software authors and other community members such as code users and journal editors, and by ASCL editors. We expect submitters to represent the software's developers as fairly and accurately as they can in their proposed entries.

When creating an entry, and when editing an entry that was not submitted by a software's developer (for example, submitted by a user), ASCL editors take into consideration the author list of any software description article(s), repository contributors, README, CITATION, and codemeta.json files, website and/or wiki documentation, and other commonly-available information to determine who to include in the credit field.

But we may not get it correct every time! If there are errors in the author list, please let us know; we edit upon feedback as needed. In our view, it is up to the lead author(s) of the code to decide who is listed and in what order in our Credit field. As best we can, for the version(s) of the software our entries represent, we will honor the lead author(s) wishes. Once the entry is vetted by the lead author, however, we generally do not change who is listed in the credit field, especially if the entry already has citations to it. In other words, we do not consider that a continually-mutable field.

However, we also list preferred citation information; the author list on a preferred citation may differ from what is listed in our Credit field. As we can list a URL in the preferred citation field, we are able to point to resource(s) and mutable author lists that developers want used for citing the software, thus allowing new contributors to the project to receive credit for a software package that has been or is being developed by many over time.

Retention and End-of-life policy

The short version: We intend to keep entries indefinitely, and, should the ASCL need to close, we will move its entries someplace else with the intent to keep this information available.

The ASCL’s purpose is to make the computational methods used in research more discoverable to improve the transparency of science. To that end, we expect to keep our information about these methods, and, when we store the software, the source code, available indefinitely. ASCL editors are responsible for editing and maintaining ASCL entries and work with software authors and others to ensure our records describe codes accurately. Once published with an ASCL ID, entries are removed from public view only under rare circumstances, such as accidental duplication of a record; these removed records are then archived for internal informational purposes.

Records that have not been assigned an ASCL ID may be removed from public view at any time, but unless they are wholly unsuitable for the ASCL, will remain on the ASCL for at least six months after submission while steps are taken to rectify whatever prevents them from being assigned ASCL IDs.

The ASCL is hosted by Michigan Technological University (MTU) and is not dependent on grant funding. It has been supported by MTU since 1999 and we have every expectation it will be supported well into the future. Should the ASCL have to move from MTU or close altogether, we will move its holdings to another site or digital repository with the goal of keeping its information free for use by all. The ASCL has reserved funds for this purpose.


Last update: July 28, 2023