Software Discovery Index & Metadata for Software – Minimal information about software (MIAS)

The comment period for the Software Discovery Index Meeting Report is open until NOVEMBER 1st 2014. The report is an easy and great read for an overview of needs for supporting finding and associating software with research publications, data, and research processes more broadly. The comments and discussion on the report seem quite productive, with many notes on relations to existing systems, needs, standards, and other areas covered in the report. In the appendices, the report includes:

Minimal information about software (MIAS)
A common set of metadata fields are critical for useful indexing. If this effort only provides refined free-text searching capabilities, it will not be a major improvement over currently-available resources. It is necessary, therefore, to define a key set of minimal fields can that provide maximum value. At the workshop, the following fields were described as candidates for inclusion in this list:

  • Persistent identifier
  • Software title
  • Software version
  • Software license
  • >Links to code repository
  • Human-readable synopsis
  • Author names and affiliations
  • Terms to describe software objectives or functions, and/or the following two bullets (controlled by an appropriate ontology)
  • Formats for data inputs and outputs
  • Platform, environment, and dependencies
  • Associated grants and publications

This listing for metadata and the discussion seem interesting in part because of the parallels with discussions in the arts and humanities, including discussions on metadata and findability systems for electronic literature as with the Electronic Literature Knowledge Base (ELMCIP):

The ELMCIP Knowledge Base is a research resource for electronic literature. It provides cross-referenced, contextualized information about authors, creative works, critical writing, and practices. Current contributors should log in to the knowledge base to enter new records.
The ELMCIP Knowledge Base depends on the active participation of a community of international researchers and writers working on electronic literature. To join us in building the Knowledge Base, email a brief message. Include a brief description of your background and interests in electronic literature so we can set you up with a contributor account to add and edit records. The Knowledge Base is developed in Drupal 7 by the University of Bergen Electronic Literature Research Group as an outcome of the ELMCIP project.

The Software Discovery Index Meeting Report also reminded me of Artists Books Online, a project to define metadata and create a database of artists books:

Artists’ Books Online is designed to promote critical engagement with artists books and to provide access to a digital repository of metadata, scans, and commentary. The project serves several different communities: artists, scholars and critics, librarians and curators, and interested readers. ABsOnline operates as an online collection with curatorial guidelines established by an advisory board of professionals. Founded in 2004 ABsOnline is an ongoing project hosted at the University of Virginia under the direction of Johanna Drucker and with assistance from staff and interns working with the University Library and its units in digital scholarship. Anyone interested in participating in the project should contact us directly for guidelines on submissions.

As one commenter noted on the Software Discovery Index Meeting Report, the report includes what you would want/hope for it to include, is straightforward, and well defines and addresses the needs. It’s a very solid report, which is great both for the intended use case with scientific research and for informing projects with shared needs and concerns from many other fields and areas.