In 2016, Software Carpentry instituted a twice-yearly release schedule for our lessons (see here for previous releases). Lesson releases, representing a snapshot in time of the material’s development, are published through Zenodo and given a DOI for citation purposes. Releases serve a few purposes, primarily to provide a trackable record of the development of our materials and to allow attribution to community members who contribute to lessons. The lesson maintainers are included as editors, while all other contributors who have made changes (as tracked through GitHub) are represented as authors.
Given that the time is approaching for a new release, we have begun to reassess how to manage the rather lengthy list of authors for each lesson. Rémi Emonet designed and implemented a fantastic automated method for lesson releases for Version 2017.02 in February 2017. We would like to improve this process by including additional information about our contributors besides their names. Zenodo allows inclusion of an ORCID identifier for each author, which provides a more robust and trackable method of identifying authors than traditional affiliations. If you’re not familiar with ORCID, please head over to their website to learn more and obtain your own identifier. ORCID is a great project which would be certainly useful outside of this purpose!
A second issue related to lesson authorship is that our list of authors is inherently additive in nature, and represents anyone who has authored commits merged into the lessons. As our lessons have matured, some contributors no longer desire to be included as an author on the release. There are multiple reasons why this might be the case. For example, someone may no longer be affiliated with Software Carpentry, or may have authored a commit early in the lesson development process that does not currently appear in the lessons. We have operated under the philosophy that the lessons as they currently exist are the cumulative result of all previous work, and all authors should be acknowledged. However, we also recognize that this is ultimately a personal choice, and our community members should be allowed to opt-out of authorship in all future releases if they wish.
To reconcile these two issues, we’ve decided to gather some information from our contributors using this Google Form. If you have contributed to lessons in the past, please take a few minutes to provide some basic information. We will be collecting responses until August 1 to include in the next release, although the form will stay open indefinitely. Eventually we may decide to add features in AMY to capture this information, but for now, please help us test this approach by adding your information.