In a series of tweets (starting with one from @dimazest and including some from @turingfan, @Iza_Romanowska, and CIRCA_StAndrews), it’s become apparent that we don’t have a standard way of providing attribution (e.g., citations, acknowledgements, dependencies) within software like we do in papers, where we have standard acknowledgement and reference sections, and for at least the reference section, a standard practice of indexers scanning this section to build up citation networks. While my transitive credit idea would handle this, perhaps there are simpler things that we can do. depsy does some of this via dependency analysis, but doesn’t consider the equivalent of citations or acknowledgements, as far as I know. CIRCA_StAndrews suggests REFERENCES or DEPENDENCIES files, in addition to CITATION and LICENSE files. This might be a good idea, but it leads to questions about how such files would be formatted (perhaps JSON-LD as for transitive credit?), generated, edited, and read, both by humans and machines. But I don’t think these things would be hard to figure out or program, for someone with a bit of extra time on their hands who is not transitioning from one job to another 🙂
So, this short blog post is a call for thinking and community action, and maybe a bit of hacking, on this idea. If I had managed to go to the SSI Collaborations Workshop, I might have suggested this for discussion and the hack day. It could wait for WSSSPE4, or for the 2016 Collaborations Workshop, but I hope someone will want to further investigate this sooner.
Some work by the author was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) while working at the Foundation; any opinion, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.