This is the title of a paper presented by Dan Katz at the Altmetrics Conference in London. Dan is the Program Director, NSF Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, and one of the founders of the Working Towards Sustainable Software for Science: Practice and Experience workshops.
Software has become so essential to research that sustaining it requires that it is treated as infrastructure. This is one the drivers behind the organization of the Agency’s Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Division. Dan gives a fine summary in only a few slides on the NSF Software Infrastructure Projects and how funding of projects is carried out, along with links to resources. Briefly, there are three types of projects funded – software elements (e.g. apps, libraries), software frameworks, and Software Institutes. Once a proposal has a successful review, Dan works with divisional Program Officers to get them funded. If you are thinking of proposing, these slides are worth viewing for this information alone.
You can watch the talk here (starting at 45:31)
or view the slides on SlideShare at http://www.slideshare.net/danielskatz/valuing-software-and-other-research-outputs, or step through them here:
The crux of the talk is that is that the impact of software needs to be measured and credit needs to be given to software provider. The NSF is exploring ways of measuring impact, and has recently issued a dear colleague letter to seek new metrics for measuring impact. See CISE/ACI & SBE/SES Dear Colleague Letter: Supporting Scientific Discovery through Norms and Practices for Software and Data Citation and Attribution (NSF 14-059, (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2014/nsf14059/nsf14059.jsp)
A desktop science app would not be measured the same way as a math library, for example. The NSF’s hypothesis is that “better measurement of contributions can lead to rewards (incentives), leading to career paths, willingness to join communities, leading to more sustainable software.” Dan points out, for example, that a software registry may be a powerful tool in assigning credit.