Academic Software Developers Need Better Incentives to Keep Biosciences Like Ecology and Evolution from Falling Behind

In the fields of ecology and evolution, the burden of academic software development often falls on the shoulders of students who may lag behind peers in other disciplines. These fields, along with other sciences, desperately need cutting-edge software solutions to handle the myriad data that is crucial for advancement. This is especially true for upgrades and maintenance, which are not included for credit in academic journals, leaving new software developers unrewarded. For the sake of the sciences and the developers, new incentive structures are integral before the software experts exit academia.

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Major software updates and maintenance are just as important as the original version release, and without the proper incentive structure, many academic labs are left to outsource these tasks outside of biosciences. Journals must publish update articles for notable developments and upgrades that balance with the original software articles, giving these essential developers the incentives – credits and recognition – they deserve. Otherwise, these developers will flock to other fields that reward them with more competitive CVs, increasing the urgency of preserving such crucial and specialized talent, and of course, advancing the sciences.