We must accept that software is fundamental to research, or we will lose our ability to make groundbreaking discoveries.
We have become accustomed to technological advances that would have been unthinkable only a few decades ago. Every new discovery, from gene sequencing to the internet, advances our understanding of the universe and, ultimately, promises a better life for everyone.
Perhaps because software is intangible, we have also become accustomed to focussing on only the hardware that makes research possible. But with very few exceptions, every significant advance in research over the last thirty years would have been impossible without software.
We want everyone in the research community – from researchers to funders – to change the way they think about software. This is not a small problem: in 2013, the seven UK Research Councils spent more than £760 million on research projects that rely on software.
- We want software to be treated as a valuable research object which befits the same level of investment and effort as any other aspect of the research infrastructure.
- We want researchers to be encouraged to spend time learning about software, because the value of that knowledge is understood to improve research.
- We want the people who develop research software to be recognized and rewarded for their invaluable contribution to research.
- We want a research environment in which software-reliant projects are encouraged to hire software developers, rather than having to hide these valuable staff members in anonymous postdoctoral positions.
- Ultimately, we want the research community to recognize software’s fundamental role in research.
- Everyone who signs this petition will add weight to our lobbying of research stakeholders, and will help us prove the fundamental role of software in research.
We are a not-for-profit organization that has been working since 2010 to change the way researchers deal with software. You can find more information about our work on our website: www.software.ac.uk.