Digital Geography

22. April 2015

SoftwareX: the new “coding” magazine

Thanks to a recent post in the Geoscience and Remote Sensing group on Facebook I discovered SoftwareX. SoftwareX is a new journal from the Elsevier. It focusses more on software which was used for gaining scientific results and not on the results itself. Let’s check it out:

SoftwareX- the setting

a lot of researchers are coding!!!

The journal is open access but still within the full Elsevier environment: articles are only published after review and they will be shared within ScienceDirect. It is free to download, copy and to distribute the articles as defined by the CC BY license. Your featured software does not need to be under this license as well but it must be covered by one of these “open” license: Furthermore you will find a github repo for code that was published in the journal. The price for publishing here is 500$ which seems quite fair for a full citable article about the software you used in your academic work. The software you would like to write about should fall in this quite broad scientific field of:
  • Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Medical and Biological Sciences
  • Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Here is a nice little video about the whole setting:

SoftwareX- the content

As described in the video you will present the software and not the result. Current articles cover:

SAGA: A standardized access layer to heterogeneous Distributed Computing Infrastructure

The Visualization Toolkit (VTK): Rewriting the rendering code for modern graphics cards

At the moment there are no article for GIS/Geo applications but I think there is a place for software like TopoToolbox by Wolfgang Schwanghart or Stratigy by Daniel Kerkow and other developed software. One should think of all those great qgis plugins that are developed but you can’t cite them in an appropriate way.

SoftwareX- a sidenote

I think this journal is an interesting approach on coding in once scientific life. I also coded a lot and it was always only for the result….

Also the decision to make this journal ‘open access’ is a good one. Elsevier gained some bad press in the latest month already playing a major role in the whole process of making money out of science paid by the public which then is not consumable by the public as the published journals are NOT open access.

Yet a big part of the “reasons” to create this journals are somewhat outdated.

With the approach of github the software which is developed by science folks is findable and also citable. Yes, I have to admit that this citation is not of the same quality like citing a paper and won’t increase your citation rank.

But keeping your code on your PC only makes it useless to everyone: In times of 2-years contracts, high mobility of the employees and scientific staff at universities make it crucial also for this institutions to publish code on open environments like github, bitbucked and so on. SoftwareX seems in my eyes to support those institutions in making such a move.