Universiteit Leiden

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Decoding Research Software Impact

  • Slinger Jansen, Jason Maassen, Deekshitha
Friday 8 March 2024
Willem Einthoven
Kolffpad 1
2333 BN Leiden
CWTS and Online

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Research software is a category of software which includes source code files, algorithms, scripts, computational workflows, and executables developed during or for research purposes. Different studies show that a significant amount of research generates new code, and researchers recognize code is an important part of research. The journal Nature, for instance, notices that at least half its publications mention the word software in either the title or abstract of their published articles.

It is detrimental for the research community if research software is insufficiently acknowledged and sustained. This is an issue that is getting more attention, and efforts such as DORA and COARA are focused on changing research assessment practice (including research software). More specific to software, the Amsterdam Declaration on Funding Research Software Sustainability aim is to raise awareness of the importance of funding research software in a sustainable way, which is intrinsically linked to recognition and impact.

However traditional research impact metrics and visibility mechanisms do not work for research software. How should one, for example, advertise and applaud a software contribution that speeds up a manual research process significantly? And if we don't know how to do it, how should funding agencies and policy makers know?

In our collaborative presentation we demonstrate the challenge of research software impact measurement. First, we dive into the research software ecosystem and its current state. Secondly, we present tools and mechanisms for making research software more sustainable and visible. With tools such as FAIRSECO and the Research Software Directory, we aim to contribute to the challenge of decoding research software impact.

FAIRSECO: We are introducing FAIRSECO (FAIR Research Software Ecosystem), which is a GitHub action designed to assess the impact of software, focusing on quality, code reuse, and citations. It evaluates the FAIRness of software based on five key recommendations for “FAIR software”. It checks whether the software utilizes a public repository with version control, contains a license and citation file, is listed in a community registry, and follows a quality checklist.

The Research Software Directory (RSD): designed to show the impact research software has on research and society.

[1] Deekshitha, Siamak Farshidi, Jason Maassen, Rena Bakhshi, Rob van Nieuwpoort, and Slinger Jansen (2023) FAIRSECO: An Extensible Framework for Impact Measurement of Research Software. In Proceedings of the IEEE eScience Conference (pdf draft, best paper award)


Dr. Slinger Jansen - Utrecht University

Slinger Jansen is an associate professor at Utrecht University, where he leads the Software Ecosystems Security research group. He is one of the leading researchers in the domain of software ecosystems and co-founders of the International Conference on Software Business and International Workshop on Software Ecosystems. He is lead editor of the book “Software Ecosystems: Analyzing and Managing Business Networks in the Software Industry” and of several others. Furthermore, he is an associate editor for the Empirical Software Engineering journal. Besides his academic endeavors he actively supports new enterprises and sits on the boards of advisors of several start-ups.

Dr. Jason Maassen - Netherlands eScience center

As Technology Lead for Efficient Computing, Jason is involved in many of the projects at the Netherlands eScience Center that apply parallel and distributed programming to scientific applications. In addition, he guides internal software development at the eScience Center and scouts for new software technology that can be used in eScience center’s projects. In the past, he has participated in many research projects, such as EU FP5 GridLab, the Dutch Virtual Labs for eScience, StarPlane, PROMM-GRID, and COMMIT, where he has worked on a range of topics related to large scale distributed computing. In these projects he has developed a monitoring system for a world-wide Grid, robust communication libraries, programming models for computing on heterogeneous distributed systems, and several eScience applications that use dynamically allocatable optical networks.

Deekshitha - Netherlands eScience center, Utrecht University, University of Leiden

Deekshitha obtained her Master of Philosophy (computer science) from the Central University of Tamil Nadu, India, and her Master of Science from Central University of Kerala,  India, in computer science. Her studies specialized in Artificial Intelligence. She has experience in software development, Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning Projects during her studies. She joined the eScience center in 2023 as a PhD student. Her research is focused on measuring the impact of research software.

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