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.

Overview

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

GitHub

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 of your first Original Software Publication (OSP)

View Instructions

  1. Select a repository for your software. The initial recommended repository is GitHub. A "how to get your project on Github" tutorial can be found here, and instructional videos here. Or, alternatively, you can zip and  upload your code/software as supplementary files directly with the article via the Elsevier Electronic Submission system. (Containing the software, code, including driven scripts, documentation and possibly other artifacts to ensure that reviewers can build/deploy/install/run the software by following the instructions).
  2. If you have your software in the GitHub repository, remember to make your software public so that the reviewers (and readers) can find it.
  3. Download the template for the OSP manuscript (Latex ZIP, 983.99 KB or Word DOCX, 30.41 KB), and write your article describing your software following this template.
  4. Make sure that you fill in all the required metadata in the two tables on Executable and Code so we can create persistent identifiers to all these artifacts.
  5. Submit your OSP manuscript via the supporting journal's online manuscript submission site. When choosing the article type, please make sure that you select the "Original Software Publication" option from the drop down menu.
  6. If you would like to upload your software/code with the manuscript rather than to GitHub, please prepare all related files as a single Zip and upload via the "Software/code (.ZIP)" submission category. Multiple zip files can be uploaded, maximum size of a single Zip file should not exceed 100 MB. Please provide a short informative description for each Zip file by filling in the "Description" field when uploading archived software/code.
  7. Optionally you can also submit any training data separately as a supplementary file.
  8. You software and code will be reviewed by subject experts on:
  • The quality of the manuscript. (Is it clear what this software does?)
  • The originality, novelty, and significance of the contribution.
  • The quality, completeness, and readability of the source codes if available.
  • The portability of the software (is it possible to move the code from one platform/complier/interpreter to another?).
  • The quality of the documentation (both for users and developers).
  • The reproducibility of the empirical results (results shown in tables and figures can be reproduced by reviewer and users).
  • The accessibility of the software (is it easy to configure and use).

After review and acceptance, your software and/or code will be copied to the journal archive on GitHub and integrated with the online version of your Original Software Publication available on ScienceDirect. Your work will be indexed, optimized for search, fully citable, archived, and fully counted as a scientific contribution.

2. Submission of your Software Updates to the OSP

View Instructions

To keep your software publication up to date after publication, we need to incorporate updates of your software as you release them

  1. Select a repository for your software update. The initial recommended repository is GitHub. A "how to get your project on Github" tutorial can be found here, and instructional videos here. Or, alternatively, you can zip and  upload your code/software update as supplementary files directly with the article via the Elsevier Electronic Submission system. (Containing the software, code, including driven scripts, documentation and possibly other artifacts to ensure that reviewers can build/deploy/install/run the software by following the instructions).
  2. If you have updated your software in the GitHub repository, remember to make your latest release  public so that the reviewers (and readers) can find it.
  3. Download the template for the Software Update manuscript. DOTX, 46.58 KB You will not need to describe your same software in detail again, but you need to update all the required metadata in the two tables describing your executables and code so we can update the persistent identifiers to all your software artifacts. (versioning)
  4. Submit and register your Software Update via online manuscript submission site. When choosing the article type, please make sure that you select the "Software Update" option from the drop down menu. 
  5. If you would like to upload your software/code with the manuscript rather than to GitHub, please prepare all related files as a single Zip and upload via the "Software/code (.ZIP)" submission category. Multiple zip files can be uploaded, maximum size of a single Zip file should not exceed 100 MB. Please provide a short informative description for each Zip file by filling in the "Description" field when uploading archived software/code.
  6. Optionally submit any new training data separately as a supplementary file.
  7. Be sure to include the reference to your Original Software Publication this is an update of.  This will enables  readers/ users to discover your complete work, and allow all cites to your various versions to be counted towards the same "body of work". You'll be prompted to answer a question about the Original Software Publication PII number that your Software Update should refer to (PII number can be obtained by navigating to your Original Software Publication on ScienceDirect. The PII number you need is the sequence behind the last forward slash in the URL

).

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.