Presentation Open Access

Mapping the Research Software Ecosystem

Ram, Karthik; Howison, James

Software is crucial to science and scholarship, offering leverage in improving individual research and collaboration within a scientific field. Good research software can have considerable science impacts but the research software ecosystem is beset with many problems. Two of the bigger challenges are visibility and discoverability.

It is surprisingly hard to know who is using what software in research. Unlike commercial software, software producers cannot turn to their accounting department, nor do they have sales engineers consulting with clients. Formal citations in scientific publications cannot reliably provide evidence of software use as software is rarely cited properly or consistently, and scientific workflows are rarely made available with publications.

Software use therefore lacks visibility. This makes it hard for individuals to demonstrate their contribution to research, hard for institutions to reward or recruit for software-based impact, hard for scientific fields to build needed software, and hard for science funders to know which scientific software to fund. 

In this hour we welcome research software maintainers to join us and learn more about the challenges and benefits of increasing visibility for their work and collectively uncover gaps that need to be filled. We'll start the discussion with short presentations on the state of the field followed by spirited discussion. 

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