Describe, Manage and Discover Research Software

Dr Mingfang Wu1, Dr Jens Klump2, Ms Sue Cook2, Dr Carsten Friedrich2, Dr David Lescinsky3, Dr Lesley Wyborn4Paola Petrelli5Margie Smith3Geoffrey Squire2

1 Australian Research Data Commons,

2 CSIRO,,,

3 Geoscience Australia,

4 National Computational Infrastructure,

5CLEX, Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes



Software is pervasive in research. A UK Research Software Survey of 1000 randomly chosen researchers [2] shows: more than 90% of researchers acknowledge software is important for their own research, about 70% of say their research would not be possible without it. In a separate study, Carver et al [3] examined 40 papers published in Nature from Jan to March 2016, 32 of them explicitly mentioned software. These surveys provide evidence that software plays an important role in research, and hence, software should be treated in the same way as other research inputs and outputs that are part of the record of research such as research data and paper publications. But of greatest importance, to enable research reproducibility, any software that underpins research should be discoverable and accessible.

Beyond making software discoverable and accessible, best practice in open source software also recommends choosing an Open Source licence that complies with third-party dependencies to clarify the legal framework for reuse and distribution of the source code.   Furthermore, the long-term sustainability of an Open Source project is supported by clear and transparent communication and processes describing how developers can contribute to the project and how these contributions are governed. It is important that the community (both developers and software users) is involved early in the software development process, to ensure that developed software is more reusable and sustainable [4].

Current International initiatives working on to make research software reproducible and reusable can be summarized in three areas:

  1. Open research and scholarly communication.  Working groups/projects (e.g. the FORCE11 Software Citation Implementation WG, the RDA Software Source Code Interest Group and the CodeMeta Project), repositories and catalogues (e.g. DataCite, Zenodo and Code Ocean), as well as publishers (e.g. Journal of Open Source Software, Nature, Elsevier), are setting up software dissemination, cataloguing, discovery and review processes.
  2. Sustainable software. Working towards Sustainable Software for Science (WSSSPE) and Research Software Sustainability Institutes in UK, US and elsewhere are encouraging, exchanging experiences or providing training courses for software development to ensure it is sustainable.
  3. Sustainable community. Research Software Engineering Association (and their chapters) has been working on advocating career path and funding for research software engineers. Parallel initiatives in communities such as the FORCE11 software citation implementation working group, research groups and publishers on citation metrics and credit models to research software engineers should ensure appropriate accreditation for contributions to software [1].

We propose a 60-minute BoF session that will mix presentations with round-table discussions. We will first provide an overview of international initiatives and activities along the above three areas, and three lighting talks on software description, curation and publishing workflow.  The presentations will be followed by a round-table group discussion on current practices and barriers people are facing in managing and describing software. The outcome from this discussion will be actions for various software interest or working groups, including an Australian software citation Interest Group.

This work is being done in partnership with the Earth Systems Information Partners (ESIP) of the US, in particular the ESIP Software and Services Cluster.  ESIP is supported by NASA, NOAA, USGS and 110+ member organizations.


  1. Smith A. M., Katz D. S., Niemeyer K. E., FORCE11 Software Citation Working Group. (2016) Software Citation Principles. PeerJ Computer Science 2:e86. DOI:10.7717/peerj-cs.86.
  2. S. J., et al. (2014). UK Research Software Survey 2014 [Data set]. doi:10.5281/zenodo.14809
  3. Carver, J.C., Gesing, S., Katz, D. S., Ram, K., and Weber, N., (2018). Conceptualization of a US Research Software Sustainability Institute (URSSI), in Computing in Science & Engineering, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 4-9, May./Jun. 2018. doi:10.1109/MCSE.2018.03221924
  4. Jiménez RC, Kuzak M, Alhamdoosh M et al., (2017). Four simple recommendations to encourage best practices in research software [version 1; referees: 3 approved]. F1000Research 2017, 6:876 (doi:12688/f1000research.11407.1)


Mingfang Wu is a senior business analyst at ANDS/Nectar/RDS.

Jens Klump is a geochemist by training and OCE Science Leader Earth Science Informatics in CSIRO Mineral Resources.  Follow him on Twitter as @snet_jklump.

Sue Cook is a Data Librarian with the Research Data Support team of CSIRO Information Management and Technology.

Carsten Friedrich is a Research Team Leader at CSIRO Data61.  At CSIRO he worked in a variety of areas including Cloud Computing, Cyber Security, Virtual Laboratories, and Scientific Software Registries.

David Lescinsky is currently the team lead of GA’s Informatics Team and is responsible for facilitating and managing GA’s eResearch projects.

Lesley Wyborn currently has a joint adjunct fellowship with NCI.  She is Chair of the Australian Academy of Science ‘Data for Science Committee’ and on the AGU Data Management Advisory Board and the Steering Committee of the AGU-led FAIR Data Publishing Project.

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