Where is all the research software? An analysis of software in UK academic repositories

Domhnall Carlin*, Austen Rainer, David Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This research examines the prevalence of research software as independent records of output within UK academic institutional repositories (IRs). There has been a steep decline in numbers of research software submissions to the UK’s Research Excellence Framework from 2008 to 2021, but there has been no investigation into whether and how the official academic IRs have affected the low return rates. In what we believe to be the first such census of its kind, we queried the 182 online repositories of 157 UK universities. Our findings show that the prevalence of software within UK Academic IRs is incredibly low. Fewer than 28% contain software as recognised academic output. Of greater concern, we found that over 63% of repositories do not currently record software as a type of research output and that several Universities appeared to have removed software as a defined type from default settings of their repository. We also explored potential correlations, such as being a member of the Russell group, but found no correlation between these metadata and prevalence of records of software. Finally, we discuss the implications of these findings with regards to the lack of recognition of software as a discrete research output in institutions, despite the opposite being mandated by funders, and we make recommendations for changes in policies and operating procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1546
Number of pages29
JournalPeerJ Computer Science
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Software
  • Library and Information Sciences


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