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Author Kirkpatrick, Arthur E. ♦ Hafer, Lou
Source ACM Digital Library
Content type Text
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
File Format PDF
Language English
Abstract Introduction Academic computer science has an odd relationship with software: Publishing papers about software is considered a distinctly stronger contribution than publishing the software. The historical reasons for this paradox no longer apply, but their legacy remains. This limits researchers who see the open-source software movement as an opportunity to make a scholarly contribution. Expanded definitions of scholarship acknowledge both application and discovery as important $components.^{1}$ One obstacle remains: evaluation. To raise software to the status of a first-class contribution, we propose "best practices" for the evaluation of the scholarly contribution of open-source software. Typically, scholars who develop software do not include it as a primary contribution for performance reviews. Instead, they write articles about the software and present the articles as contributions. This conflation of articles and software serves neither medium well. An article describes an original intellectual contribution consisting of an idea, the argument for its importance and correctness, and supporting data. In contrast, software is more often an implementation of prior ideas in a usable form. It bridges the often considerable gap between an idea and the practical application of that idea. The original idea and its implementation represent distinct kinds of contribution. The critical gap is the perceived incomparability of these two contributions. Lacking a concise description adapted to the traditional practices of performance review committees, software is difficult to evaluate as a scholarly contribution and is often relegated to second-class status. We propose a framework for common assessment based on widely accepted definitions of scholarship. Within this general framework, we consider the material and procedures that a performance review committee uses to evaluate a publication. We then describe how software can be summarized in a compatible form of bibliographic citation and supplementary material.
Description Affiliation: Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia (Hafer, Lou; Kirkpatrick, Arthur E.)
Age Range 18 to 22 years ♦ above 22 year
Educational Use Research
Education Level UG and PG
Learning Resource Type Article
Publisher Date 2005-08-01
Publisher Place New York
Journal Communications of the ACM (CACM)
Volume Number 52
Issue Number 12
Page Count 4
Starting Page 126
Ending Page 129


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Source: ACM Digital Library