Online division of labour: emergent structures in Open Source Software

Authors : María J. Palazzi, Jordi Cabot, Javier Luis Cánovas Izquierdo, Albert Solé-Ribalta, Javier Borge-Holthoefer

The development Open Source Software fundamentally depends on the participation and commitment of volunteer developers to progress. Several works have presented strategies to increase the on-boarding and engagement of new contributors, but little is known on how these diverse groups of developers self-organise to work together.

To understand this, one must consider that, on one hand, platforms like GitHub provide a virtually unlimited development framework: any number of actors can potentially join to contribute in a decentralised, distributed, remote, and asynchronous manner.

On the other, however, it seems reasonable that some sort of hierarchy and division of labour must be in place to meet human biological and cognitive limits, and also to achieve some level of efficiency.

These latter features (hierarchy and division of labour) should translate into recognisable structural arrangements when projects are represented as developer-file bipartite networks.

In this paper we analyse a set of popular open source projects from GitHub, placing the accent on three key properties: nestedness, modularity and in-block nestedness -which typify the emergence of heterogeneities among contributors, the emergence of subgroups of developers working on specific subgroups of files, and a mixture of the two previous, respectively.

These analyses show that indeed projects evolve into internally organised blocks. Furthermore, the distribution of sizes of such blocks is bounded, connecting our results to the celebrated Dunbar number both in off- and on-line environments.

Our analyses create a link between bio-cognitive constraints, group formation and online working environments, opening up a rich scenario for future research on (online) work team assembly.


Lessons Learned in Partnerships and Practice: Adopting Open Source Institutional Repository Software

Author:  Amy Leigh Allen


After the establishment of the University Archives at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, it became apparent that processes needed to be established for collecting, preserving, and providing access to born-digital materials.

The University Archivist established partnerships across multiple departments within the Libraries and with faculty and staff of colleges, schools, and administrative units across campus to test open source repository software and develop collections to fulfill this need.


This case study examines three specific projects and workflows providing access to digital undergraduate honors theses, university serials, and music concert recordings. Lessons learned during the project include the success strategies for partnership formation along with the identification of project processes that need improvement, such as promotion and long term preservation.


The campus has transitioned to a proprietary system for the official institutional repository. However, the pilot projects examined in this study filled intermediate needs: providing a group of files and metadata for the official institutional repository and helping the Libraries to evaluate the sustainability of open source platforms.

Staff gained experience and identified areas where improvement was needed. However, the most successful aspect of the project was establishing partnerships that will carry over to the new repository.

URL : Lessons Learned in Partnerships and Practice: Adopting Open Source Institutional Repository Software


Journal of Open Source Software (JOSS): design and first-year review

Authors : Arfon M Smith, Kyle E Niemeyer, Daniel S Katz, Lorena A Barba, George Githinji, Melissa Gymrek, Kathryn D Huff, Christopher R Madan, Abigail Cabunoc Mayes, Kevin M Moerman, Pjotr Prins, Karthik Ram, Ariel Rokem, Tracy K Teal, Roman Valls Guimera, Jacob T Vanderplas

This article describes the motivation, design, and progress of the Journal of Open Source Software (JOSS). JOSS is a free and open-access journal that publishes articles describing research software. It has the dual goals of improving the quality of the software submitted and providing a mechanism for research software developers to receive credit.

While designed to work within the current merit system of science, JOSS addresses the dearth of rewards for key contributions to science made in the form of software. JOSS publishes articles that encapsulate scholarship contained in the software itself, and its rigorous peer review targets the software components: functionality, documentation, tests, continuous integration, and the license.

A JOSS article contains an abstract describing the purpose and functionality of the software, references, and a link to the software archive. The article is the entry point of a JOSS submission, which encompasses the full set of software artifacts.

Submission and review proceed in the open, on GitHub. Editors, reviewers, and authors work collaboratively and openly. Unlike other journals, JOSS does not reject articles requiring major revision; while not yet accepted, articles remain visible and under review until the authors make adequate changes (or withdraw, if unable to meet requirements).

Once an article is accepted, JOSS gives it a DOI, deposits its metadata in Crossref, and the article can begin collecting citations on indexers like Google Scholar and other services. Authors retain copyright of their JOSS article, releasing it under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

In its first year, starting in May 2016, JOSS published 111 articles, with more than 40 additional articles currently under review. JOSS is a sponsored project of the nonprofit organization NumFOCUS and is an affiliate of the Open Source Initiative.


Le contrôle des communs numériques à des fins commerciales : le cas des logiciels libres

Auteur/Author : Stéphane Couture

Cet article aborde les formes de contrôle des biens communs par des entreprises commerciales en étudiant le cas des logiciels libres. Les logiciels libres sont des logiciels dont le code source est librement accessible, et peut être modifié et partagé.

Cette éthique de partage a permis l’émergence d’un modèle collaboratif souvent présenté comme l’exemple type des « communs numériques ». Cependant, de plus en plus d’entreprises participent aujourd’hui au développement des logiciels libres.

Si plusieurs analystes voient d’un bon œil cette contribution commerciale, d’autres font ressortir les formes de contrôle que ces entreprises mettent en place pour tirer profit des communs en logiciels libres.

En recensant différentes études sur ces questions et en analysant plus précisément les cas de Symfony et de Redhat, deux logiciels libres fortement développés par des entreprises commerciales, le présent article s’attarde sur ces formes de contrôle des communs numériques et en fait ressortir les conséquences éthiques.


The Importance of Free and Open Source Software…

The Importance of Free and Open Source Software and Open Standards in Modern Scientific Publishing :

“In this paper we outline the reasons why we believe a reliance on the use of proprietary computer software and proprietary file formats in scientific publication have negative implications for the conduct and reporting of science. There is increasing awareness and interest in the scientific community about the benefits offered by free and open source software. We discuss the present state of scientific publishing and the merits of advocating for a wider adoption of open standards in science, particularly where it concerns the publishing process.”


Open Source Software for Creation of Digital Library…

Open Source Software for Creation of Digital Library: A Comparative Study of Greenstone Digital Library Software & DSpace :

“Softwares now-a-days have become the life line of modern day organizations. Organizations cannot think of doing their tasks effectively and efficiently without softwares. The extremely competitive environment, zero deficiency and enhanced productivity has made it mandatory for the organizations to carefully choose the appropriate software after comprehensive needs assessment. Softwares simply their tasks and saves a lot of precious time which can be utilized in managing other important issues. Libraries also need softwares if they want to create a parallel digital library with features which we may not find in a traditional library. There are several open source softwares available to create a digital library. For this, firstly the library professionals should be aware of the advantages of open source software and should involve in their development. They should have basic knowledge about the selection, installation and maintenance. Open source software requires a greater degree of computing responsibility than commercial software. Digitization involves huge money to create and maintain and the OSS appears to be a means to reduce it. Among these, DSpace and Greenstone are becoming more popular in India and abroad. This paper deals with the comparison of these two popular OSS from various points of view. The comparative table may help the professionals who are planning to create a digital library.”


The case for open computer programs Scientific…

The case for open computer programs :

“Scientific communication relies on evidence that cannot be entirely included in publications, but the rise of computational science has added a new layer of inaccessibility. Although it is now accepted that data should be made available on request, the current regulations regarding the availability of software are inconsistent. We argue that, with some exceptions, anything less than the release of source programs is intolerable for results that depend on computation. The vagaries of hardware, software and natural language will always ensure that exact reproducibility remains uncertain, but withholding code increases the chances that efforts to reproduce results will fail.”