Several months ago, I stumbled upon the journal they call Joss. Well, actually, JOSS - the Journal of Open Source Software, "a developer friendly, open access journal for research software packages". It's a completely free, open-source and open-access alternative to established, for-(often-a-lot-of)-profit journals such as those by Reed-Elsevier or Springer.
And a few days ago, I've been called into service to review VlaPy, "1D-1V Vlasov-Poisson(-Fokker-Planck) Plasma Physics Simulation Tool". While I'm digging into that code, I thought I'd write something up about JOSS in general!
JOSS, as a software-centric journal, is mostly managed via GitHub. Reviewers sign up here (which is a link I'd like to recommend that you follow!). It's mostly meant to solve one issue:
Research software attribution
Acknowledgement and funding for developing and maintaining research software tends to be sparse. Remember the black hole image from last year? To quote Andreas Mueller on Twitter:
Slightly ironic that in the same week @NSF rejects a grant to fund the scipy ecosystem saying that working on it is not impactful enough and hiring developers to work on it is too expensive. Cc @thisgreyspirit (Katie doesn't seem to be on Twitter?)— Andreas Mueller (@amuellerml) April 14, 2019
To counteract that, scientific developers tend to chase exciting new results that accompany new releases of their software. However, that often leads to "more software" instead of "better and more stable software".
As for attribution, citations are everything in the current (rather flawed, in
my opinion - I'm not ready with a pull request just yet, though) system of
evaluation of scientific work. Package authors tend to try to write books about
their works that are then cited. This seems to have improved in the recent years,
but I distinctly remember that most
__citation__ atributes for packages in the
Pythonosphere were books a while ago. Getting software that "just works" and
simplifies your life published, from what I've heard, can be difficult if not
accompanied by a "novel" result.
JOSS is sort of a hack on this system - it allows for software to be thoroughly reviewed and appreciated for its own merits. Of course, it's not a permanent solution; but I'm going to leave deliberating on another one for another time :)