Open source ecosystems need equitable credit across contributions - new letter

My colleagues and I have a new letter to the editor in Nature Computational Science:

The core point is that open source needs a better model for how it acknowledges contributors and their contributions, particularly contributions to an open source project that go beyond the code itself. Examples of such non-code contributions include organizing outreach efforts to popularize an open source solution, writing training docs, or helping to drum up financing. We argue in our letter that the CRediT model for academic publishing may serve as inspiration for a similar model tailored to open source contributions.

Here’s an excerpt:

Collaborative and creative communities are more equitable when all contributions to a project are acknowledged. Equitable communities are, in turn, more transparent, more accessible to newcomers, and more encouraging of innovation — hence we should foster these communities, starting with proper attribution of credit. However, to date, no standard and comprehensive contribution acknowledgement system exists in open source, not just for software development but for the broader ecosystems of conferences, organization and outreach efforts, and technical knowledge. Furthermore, both closed and open source projects are built on a complex web of open source dependencies, and we lack a nuanced understanding of who creates and maintains these projects. As a result, large sums and efforts go to open source software projects without knowing whom the investments support and where they have impact.

Check out the letter for more. Nature Computational Science looks to be an interesting journal.


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Jim Bagrow
Jim Bagrow
Associate Professor of Mathematics & Statistics

My research interests include complex networks, computational social science, and data science.

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