Citation method, please? A case study in astrophysics

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)

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