GitHub woos scientists

The popular code sharing site has made it easier for researchers to cite their repositories in academic literature

scientist-600x450_0.jpgImage credit: flickr/JD Hancock (license)
GitHub is trying to attract more of these folks

We all know that GitHub is pretty popular these days, with more than 10 million repositories and counting. As I've written before, it’s not just popular with software developers, either; all sorts of other people are starting to use the popular platform to share and crowdsource all sorts of things beyond just programming code, such as laws, book manuscripts and wedding invitations. Now, we can add academic researchers to the list of people who can make good use of GitHub.

Researchers, particularly those in scientific fields, could find GitHub useful for sharing and collaborating on software they build to do their work as well as data. Last week GitHub announced that, in order to encourage more sharing and collaboration among researchers on the site, they’ve now provided a way to assign a digital object identifier (DOI) to any GitHub repository. DOIs are used to uniquely identify electronic objects (like a website, dataset or, say, a code repository) and are critical to providing academic references (and, hence, credit) in academic literature.

"These things really matter to academics," said Arfon Smith, GitHub’s head of scientific initiatives, in a recent interview with InfoWorld.

GitHub provides step-by-step instructions for how to assign a DOI to a repository. To do so, you have to first archive the repository with Zenodo, a platform for sharing academic research which integrates with GitHub, and create at least one release. Seems pretty straightforward.

Also, to encourage more scientists to use GitHub, they’re now offering academic researchers five free private repositories. Research groups can also sign up to receive 20 free private repositories. To take advantage of this, you’ll need to associate an academic email address with your account and request the GitHub Education discount.

So, go ahead, you scientists - get on the GitHub bandwagon!

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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