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Use Case: Software Citation Impact on Careers #3
Use Case: Software Citation Impact on Careers
Goals and Summary
A PhD student has authored an R package that provides several functions for studying the size and shape of fossils. The package is an improvement over existing programs – it is faster, simpler, and free. Although she has already constructed a manual to accompany the package, she knows she cannot cite this manual as scholarly material in her field. She spends additional time preparing a traditional journal article describing the package and its use cases. However, the article is rejected from her discipline journals for being too technical and outside the scope of paleontology. Instead, she publishes it as a short piece for a software journal. Although she lists the paper on her resume, senior scholars in her field ignore the paper because it is not in a journal they recognize. The PhD student is further discouraged because although she has posted links to the manual, article, and package on her personal website, she finds few colleagues are switching to her improved method. The PhD student seeks advice from her dissertation advisor. Her advisor recommends that she should focus more on “real” material for her dissertation and drop her programming interest. Before she spends more time on her R-package, her PhD advisor wants to see proof that it is paying off for her academic career.
Why is it important and to whom?
Consistent, meaningful software citation is important to three actors in this story – the PhD student, her advisor, and her academic discipline. The PhD student wants to receive recognition for her work, but not just any audience will do. She wants to receive recognition from within her discipline – from like-minded peers who might use her new package and from senior scholars who will evaluate her job applications. She needs a way to tell her software story that will convince other members of her discipline that her approach has merit.
Why hasn’t it been solved yet?
There are several barriers to solving this problem, some of which can be resolved by improved software citation methods and some of which cannot. The barriers which cannot be resolved by improved software citation methods include academic hierarchy, the tenure-track process, the low availability of academic jobs, and the historical inheritance of academic disciplines. However, improved software citation methods could work within these existing systems to provide new ways of recognizing research contributions. To benefit the actors in this story, an improved software citation method would include:
Additional Information and Links