Software is a critical element of many research endeavours, and not just scientific ones – And needs to be recognised as such.
In response to the initiative by the UK’s Software Sustainability Institute to lead a petition for greater recognition of the role of software in research — “Software is fundamental to research” — I thought I would outline 5 key points I consider to be essential. They are:
- Software is a critical element of many research endeavours, and not just scientific ones – And needs to be recognised as such.
- Software needs to be properly designed, implemented, supported and maintained over its entire lifecycle, as an essential part of research infrastructure – just like any other physical research infrastructure asset. This is expensive to do and needs to be financially provided for accordingly.
- The costs associated with software creation, configuration and use, and maintenance are mainly recurring personnel costs (and sometimes also licensing costs) rather than fixed capital costs – this needs to be provided for in research infrastructure and project funding mechanisms.
- People writing software need to be properly trained and experienced — in order to avoid costly problems downstream. In general, research post-docs and PhD students should not be expected to write their own software unless they have specific reasons, interest and skills to do so – because it distracts from what they are supposed to focus on i.e., their research.
- People writing software within the academic sector need to be properly recognised for their contribution and expertise, in ways that are alternates to peer-reviewed publication and academic promotion — because it is often not possible or appropriate to use these mechanisms for such persons.
If you agree with these principles, please support the cause by signing here: https://www.change.org/p/everyone-in-the-research-community-we-must-accept-that-software-is-fundamental-to-research-or-we-will-lose-our-ability-to-make-groundbreaking-discoveries)