American Astronomical Society

To advance the discovery, tracking, and preservation of scientific software by improving software citation practices

  • Amount $448,500
  • City Washington, DC
  • Investigator Julie Steffen
  • Year 2016
  • Program Digital Technology
  • Sub-program Scholarly Communication

Recent technological advances have made it possible to assign Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to software projects, allowing authors to cite them in just the same way they have traditionally cited a journal article or study. Yet we have not seen much movement toward the actual citation of software by authors—a problem, since citation remains the primary way to acknowledge valuable work among scientists. The problem appears to be cultural, not technical, and it thus makes sense to focus on change at a disciplinary level. Astronomy presents an ideal opportunity to model a best-practice approach to software citation in the sciences. This grant funds an effort by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) to develop and implement a new "software broker" system that would automate the creation and management of metadata about software versions, licensing, and authorship. The move would prompt software developers to fully document their code in structured ways that could easily be imported into discovery tools like the Astronomical Data Service (ADS), which tracks citations across formal and preprint articles and serves as a search interface across the astronomy literature. Though developed within astronomy, most of the systems and workflows to be developed are generic and applicable much more broadly.

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