Next to research papers, software is rapidly becoming one of the two prime outputs of scientific advancement in practically every field of research. While research papers are passive, research software is active: reusable, reproducible and transferable. The demand on the valuable software products, services and know-how of the eScience center is evidence of this development.
Academic software producers like the NLeSC, but in the broader sense any academic group that produces software, need to make their performance indicators observable: the impact of the developed software should be measured and reported. This is essential to get recognition and credit for the academic contributions in software, as well as to securing continued financial support for the future. Measured impact is also key intelligence for strategic decision-making on the maintenance of eScience software (as >50% of the cost of software is in maintenance).
Software Analytics research was pioneered by CWI SWAT and its partners in the last decade; it is the application of data-analytics to source code versions, installation, reuse, issue tracking, online discussion, etc. to turn this data into actionable insights. We have the goal to transfer this software analytics tooling and knowledge to eScience center: to set up infrastructure for monitoring and assessing the impact of their and their partner’s software. This infrastructure works directly with eStep to support the upcoming scientific evaluation of the center. Moreover, measuring software impact will be an incentive for partners to join eStep (in addition to increased visibility).
Image: Map of scientific collaboration between researchers by Olivier H. Beauchesne