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James Howison: Challenges and Pathways to sustainability in Scientific software ecosystems

About this event

Talk Abstract: A key challenge of science policy is to achieve sustained benefit from scientific grantmaking. In this presentation, I will provide a framework for thinking about sustainability in scientific software projects, based on empirical studies of development and use of software in science. The framework starts by asking: what is it that causes sustainability problems? Over time, software declines in scientific usefulness, driven by four factors: a moving scientific frontier, technological change, friction in building software, friction in using software, and, least appreciated, change in the software ecosystem sounding a component. These factors drive a need for work; in response, we can try to suppress the drivers, try to reduce the amount of work needed, or attract sufficient resources able to undertake the work needed to sustain scientific usefulness. I will analyze three systems by which projects obtain resources: commercial markets, grant-making, and community-based peer-production. I will conclude with recent results from a study into pathways to sustainable peer production in NSF grant-funded projects.


Bio: James Howison is an Associate Professor in the Information School of the University of Texas at Austin, where he has been since August 2011. James studies open collaboration, particularly in software development, including open-source software development and the development of software in science. His work has been supported by grants from the NSF, including a 2015 NSF CAREER award and a 2019 PECASE award, as well as the Sloan Foundation. James has published in the fields of Information Systems, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, and Information Sciences (e.g., MIS Quarterly, ACM CSCW Conference, and JASIST), as well as keynotes for industry and funding agency advisory events. Recently James has contributed to the development of [CiteAs](http://citeas.org), a system to improve incentives for high-quality software work in science by mapping from software to its requested citation.  CV and Publications at [james.howison.name](http://james.howison.name).


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