Announcing the Journal of Open Research Software - a software metajournal

OpenAndClosed.jpgThe Software Sustainability Institute is delighted to announce that we have partnered with Ubiquity Press to launch the Journal of Open Research Software, a metajournal for research software. This enables all authors of research software to create a permanent, citable, open access record of their software, and enables all researchers to access and cite the software published in this way. In particular, the journal metapapers have an explicit reuse section as we believe that reuse is the most important thing a paper supports - it not only rewards the author, but leads to more efficient, higher quality science.

What is a metajournal?

Metajournals provide a fully open access way to discover research resources that are spread across multiple locations and which are usually hard to find, using mechanisms familiar to anyone who has published or retrieved a "regular" paper. Metapapers reward authors for openly archiving and making accessible their research datasets, software and reports, by making these citable and tracking this for indicators of impact. In addition, metajournals provide information to maximise reuse potential of the software or data.

Why a software metajournal?

Traditionally, it has been hard to cite software. This is an issue because it discourages publication of software (there is no incentive), and it discourages reproducible research, and the reuse of code (because it is hard to find software and reward reuse). Whilst we appreciate that what is required in the long run is a reevaluation of how we measure and rate the "success" of research, a software metajournal is a pragmatic approach to using existing, understood mechanisms to help raise the profile of software as a research output on a par with publications, datasets and methods. Without the ability to give credit for the reuse of software, and for making software available for reuse, we inhibit reproducible research, and we disincentivise those for whom developing software is an inherent part of their research. By following open access principles, software metajournals also ensure that software is made available for the long term.

Aren't there already journals which publish software?

Unfortunately, there are fewer than there should be. Some disciplines and journals have been forward thinking enough to ask for the source code to be submitted at the same time as the paper describing the scientific results (e.g. Computer Physics Communications). Others have opened a special software track alongside their main research tracks (e.g. Journal of Machine Learning Research and Bioinformatics). However in both these cases there is a requirement for there to be novelty in both the research and the software. Finally there are journals like Open Research Computation which represent the pinnacle of software journals, with strict criteria and a focus on code quality.

The Journal of Open Research Software fills in the gap that isn't covered by these journals - an open access journal for software that has a low effort barrier for submission, acting as a journal of record that allows significant versions of a piece of software to be cited and made available, e.g. in connection with a research paper. Whilst the aim is to make it easy to submit a software metapaper to the journal, it retains a strict peer review process that ensures the accessibility of the software and correctness of the metadata associated with the software.

Why is this journal part of the Ubiquity Press metajournal platform?

Ubiquity Press have been working with others to establish data metajournals (e.g. Journal of Open Archaeology Data). By being part of a larger metajournal platform, users will be able to cross-reference software to useful datasets as well. Plus we like the Ubiquity Press ethos, and their commitment to open access priniciples.

I'm sold. How do I submit my software to the Journal of Open Research Software?

We are currently in the beta phase of the journal launch. This means we are accepting submissions but welcome comments on the process. Also, please bear with us as we fine tune the guidelines for authors and reviewers.

Please visit: to start the process!

If you're interested in helping to shape the metajournal as it progresses, or think you would make a good reviewer, please email with a short summary of your experience.

Posted by n.chuehong on 23 March 2012 - 5:25pm

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