Open Research Computation

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

By now, many of you have (hopefully) seen the announcement of Open Research Computation, a new journal devoted to "...peer reviewed articles that describe the development, capacities, and uses of software designed for use by researchers in any field." The editorial board includes several friends of this course; as one of them, Titus Brown, observed in his blog:

...the problem with the online world for scientists [is] there's no real systematized incentive to any of this online stuff. And that makes it really tough. I'm going through Reappointment right now... Nowhere on there is there a place for "influential blog posts" — how would you measure that, anyway? Same with software — I listed my various software releases on the "scientific products" page of the form, and have since been asked to describe and discuss the impact of my software. Since I don't track downloads, and half or more of the software hasn't been published yet and can't easily be cited, and people don't seem to reliably cite open source software anyway, I'm not sure how to document the impact.

...I'm extra-specially-pleased to be on the board of editors, not least because so far it seems like this journal is trying to break significant new ground. Our ed board discussions so far have included discussions on how to properly "snapshot" version control repositories upon publication of the associated paper...and considerations for "repeat" publishing of significant new software versions, as the software matures, in order to help encourage people to actually update and release their software.

This new journal isn't a panacea, of course. It's going to take 3-5 years, or even more, to make a real impact, if it ever does. But I'm enthusiastic about a venue that speaks to a major theme of my own scientific efforts — responsible computing — and that could help in the struggle to place responsible computing more squarely in the scientific focus.

I wish them the best of luck, and hope to see many contributions from alumni of this course in coming years.

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