Original software publications

New academic content type: original software publications

Research is becoming more and more computer-driven with many fields developing code, software and computational tools to further their science. Currently these valuable research artifacts are not systematically organized, curated, indexed nor exposed in the academic literature, making them difficult for readers in the wider scientific community to discover, evaluate, re-use, further build upon, or reliably reference versions used whilst conducting their own research.

Software developers struggle to get academic recognition for their work as authors, often reverting to proxies like regular papers, manuals or books. We feel software itself is currently not systematically treated as a full and equal academic citizen. We believe software should be an integral part of the scientific communication ecosystem.

Elsevier intends to make software itself a fully-fledged academic publication and to that end, we have created a new academic content class: Original Software Publications. The software and code can include post publication updates and all metadata is systematically captured to expose your work to interested readers and users. Your software will be peer-reviewed and considered "one body of work" for citation and indexing purposes, creating the canonical academic reference point for your body of software work including all its versions.

All software and code published is, and will remain, fully owned by their developers.


Original Software Publications describe significant software and/or code in full, including relevant post publication version updates, capturing all metadata needed to expose this work to interested readers and users. The Original Software Publication, as well as its subsequent releases, will be peer reviewed and considered one body of work for citation and indexing purposes.

New research publications have always been founded on earlier work, and the same applies to software.  What constitutes enough of a 'body of work' to be publishable as an Original Software Publication is decided by the editorial policies of journals supporting this new class of scientific contribution. For instance, bug fixes and many other post publication releases are not considered publishable "major new work", and are incorporated into the initial publication by means of submitting an update to the original software publication.

Should the software reach a significant major new release this should be submitted as a new Original Software Publication. This new release is treated as a new body of academic work, allowing developers to cite their earlier work, relevant theory, and other comparable works.

All software and code must be released under one of the pre-approved licenses. View licenses


A copy of the 'accepted for publication' version of software/code will be copied to the journal's GitHub repository for archiving purposes.

Submission instructions

1. Submission process for your first Original Software Publication (OSP)

    View instructions

    2. Submission of your software updates to the OSP

      View instructions

      Supporting journals

      Contact information

      If you have questions or wish to provide feedback on Original Software Publications please contact us at OSP@elsevier.com.

      For GitHub technical support please send email at science@github.com and kindly use "OSP" in your email header.