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Due Recognition

A recently launched website hopes to give researchers who write code their due, Nature News reports.

By tracking research software that's described, mentioned, or used in the literature, Depsy aims to underscore the contribution of research software and its developers to science, as the website notes.

The Depsy profile of Klaus Schliep, a postdoc at University of Massachusetts in Boston, says that he contributed to seven software packages and that he shares 34 percent of the credit for the phylogenetic software phangorn, Nature News says. In addition, Depsy points out that these seven packages have been downloaded more than 2,600 times, cited in 89 open-access research papers, and have been re-used in other software.

Currently, Depsy can only track code written in R or in Python and can only track code that's in public repositories. Eventually, its developers tell Nature News, they want to expand to other coding languages as well as incorporate a fourth measure that gauges the software's social influence from its GitHub reviews and how often it's discussed online.

Neil Chue Hong, the founding director of the Software Sustainability Institute, tells Nature News that he hopes that such metrics that estimate the impact of code will enable research software developers to secure grants more easily. "The real irony is that by not rewarding the use of software, we're actually putting roadblocks in the way of science," he adds.

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