Science: give DueCredit to software and methods developers!

Matteo Visconti di Oleggio Castello, Yaroslav O. Halchenko


Science depends on software. From Astronomy to Zoology, every (data) scientist uses software to collect, analyze, and report data. Much of this software is open source and developed first-hand by researchers in the field. While scholars cite relevant papers in their works, software and methods are often forgotten in the reference list. End-users tend to ignore the complexity and ramifications of the methods they are using, contributing to the lack of adequate citations for software. Thus, works that introduce a novel method or software often have an underrepresented number of citations compared to the actual users, making it harder for the creators to show the importance of their work when applying for funding. And when such citations exist, young investigators with novel methods are forced to “re-implement” the wheel, creating short-lived independent projects instead of contributing to existing ones, because they need recognition of their work. To counter this vicious cycle and let scientific software be given its due credit, we developed DueCredit, a framework in Python that allows users to automatically collect citations of methods, software, and datasets used in analysis pipelines. DueCredit aims to be invisible to the user, who just needs to flip a switch to start collecting references. When the analysis script finishes, the user can obtain a report containing references formatted in the citation style of choice or in BibTeX.