Research or Perish! The Decentralized Web and Open Research. A Report from the FORCE11 2018 Montreal Conference

Image: FORCE11 2018 Montreal Conference, group photo

I attended the FORCE11 annual conference—an event with a very broad coverage of scholarly communications—with a mission in mind. This mission was to see what decentralized web (DWeb) research projects had matured to a level to be reusable in the working context of a scholars. Most DWeb systems and services are in an alpha phase, so in early R&D state where things are still experimental and not meant for large scale professional use. When a systems is in an alpha phase the objective is to carry out R&D to be able to test a set of assumptions and so improve a system to be able for it to move onto become a beta system, and then a full release. My very real concern is that almost all DWeb systems being proposed don’t know enough about how scholars and academia works, and instead use very thin models of scholarly workflows, that in turn means the chances of adoption, moving through the development phases, or solving the big problems in science communications are greatly reduced.

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An Interview with Sarven Capadisli, Dokieli-Developer, on Autonomous Linked Research

Image: By Malvika Sharan @MalvikaSharan Twitter 

A rare breed of open Web researcher, testing assumptions about publishing and academic freedom by creating the demonstrative software ‘dokieli‘. A browser based, decentralized publishing software, designed on the principles of—empowerment, individual autonomy, decentralized and interoperable applications, universal access, and a social Web. And why the experiment “This ‘Paper’ is a Demo“, borne from a healthy dose of stubbornness, came about. The current line of thinking at a high-level is captured as part of the ‘Linked Research‘ initiative.

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#GenR Software Citation Round-up

A concluding summary of headline issues from the Open Science theme of ‘software citation’. Software citation is an important building block in the future of Open Science and has run as Generation R’s launch editorial theme. As with all of the topics of focus on Gen R editorially the issue will be revisited on regular occasions as major developments occur.

What is intrinsically important about software citation?

For the main part it would appear to be the case that until recently no one had indexed, or cataloged, research software. If we compared this situation to the cataloging of literature, and somehow nobody had cataloged publications for the last fifty years, then this would just be unimaginable. But for software this has been the case — for the last half-century there has been virtually no widespread and systematic indexing of software, or its citation in literature. There are exceptions, and the Astrophysics Source Code Library is such an exception and worthy of mention, started in 1999. (ASCL >1999)

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Make Your Code Citable Using GitHub and Zenodo: A How-to Guide

This how-to guide is designed for researchers who want to create and re-use GitHub-based repositories in academic literature.

Open Science MOOC

The following guide has been made by the Open Science MOOC as part of preparation work on its first module release ‘Open Research Software and Open Source‘. The Open Science MOOC is made by an international volunteer group of over a hundred contributors, which you are free to join.

Gen R is a partner contributor to Open Science MOOC and over time as our editorial paths cross we will look to make a variety of contributions to the MOOC as a free and open learning resource for all.

Software Citation

It’s hard to overstate how important it is to have a record of what software has been produced, and also how little has been done in the past to create such indexes and catalogs of software. It’s like no one cataloged books for the last half-century and only now retrospectively took up the task.

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Software Citation Implementation in Astronomy

Image: Jupiter’s southern hemisphere was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft on the outbound leg of a close flyby of the gas-giant planet, 11:31 p.m. PDT on May 23, 2018. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill. See:

This week’s post is a repost of a summary of a meeting held at the 231st American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in National Harbor, Maryland, USA, January 2018. The original summary, prepared by Daina Bouquin and Arfon Smith, is on GitHub, and is reproduced here with permission.


Software citation is foundationally important to the future of astronomy. Deep intellectual contributions are being made by people creating software to enable scientific research, and it is essential that software creators are encouraged to create these valuable resources. Efforts to help authors receive proper academic credit will allow them to prioritize writing software valuable for the astronomy community within their current profession or the ability to focus their whole career on it. With these facts in mind, on January 11, 2018 a “splinter meeting” was held at the 231st Meeting of the AAS that focused on implementing the FORCE11 Software Citation Principles (Appendix A) in Astronomy.

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