Supporting best practices for open source software development

A new paper published in the ELIXIR F1000 Research channel encourages developers, research institutes and companies to adopt four best practices for open source development of life science research software.

The recommendations provide practical suggestions based on the Open Source Software values. They are simple practices that help make research software more discoverable and transparent and promote its quality and sustainability.

The four recommendations are:

  1. Make your code publicly accessible from day one
  2. Make software easy to discover by providing software metadata via a popular community repository
  3. Adopt a licence and comply with the licence of third party dependencies
  4. Define clear and transparent contribution, governance and communication processes

The recommendations are accompanied by a list of arguments addressing common questions and concerns raised by the research community. They also include pointers  and practical advice on how to implement and comply with the four principles.

Building community consensus

The paper is the outcome of year long discussions and deliberations driven by ELIXIR, the Software Sustainability Institute and the Netherlands eScience Center. They involved a wide range of researchers and developers representing over 40 different institutes and organisations. As such, the recommendations present a broad consensus of the life science research community.

Rafael Jimenez, ELIXIR CTO and the paper’s lead author said: "Rather than developing a new all-encompassing set of best practices, our paper provides easy-to-implement recommendations that encourage the adoption of existing practices. Early on in our work we decided to focus on practices that are easy to follow, easy to monitor and comply with, and at the same time are essential to drive the adoption of Open Source principles. Our paper and the proposed recommendations want to raise awareness of the benefits of Open Source values and encourage developers to collaborate and share their work with their peers.”

The authors encourage developers, managers,  researchers, funders, journal editors and others concerned with research software to endorse and adopt these best practices. So far nearly 100 individuals have committed to actively promote the recommendations within their organisations.

Endorse the recommendations via:

Jiménez RC, Kuzak M, Alhamdoosh M et al. Four simple recommendations to encourage best practices in research software, F1000Research 2017, 6:876 (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.11407.1)

Mon 17 July 2017