With the increasing indispensability of software solutions in the process of gaining scientific knowledge, the sustainable handling of research software - i.e. software developed and/or used for the purpose of scientific research activities - is part of good scientific practice.
In order to meet this requirement and to address the associated challenges, guidelines, manuals and other documents and materials have been jointly developed and regularly updated at the GFZ since November 2015, which serve as a binding framework and assistance in the professional handling of research software.
As a member of the Helmholtz Association - Germany's largest research organization - the GFZ, together with all Helmholtz Centres, has also been shaping the community-wide framework for sustainable handling and the open access to research software required in research, as well as the subsequent use and transfer for socially relevant applications, since the Task Group Research Software of the Open Science Working Group was constituted in June 2016.
In the Helmholtz Open Science Policy published in September 2022, the centers of the Helmholtz Association agreed that details on the handling of research software will be regulated in corresponding guidelines for each center by 2025 if possible and made publicly available.
Following this commitment, information on the regulations and processes established at the GFZ as well as further assistance can be found below.
Policy on Use and Licensing of Research Software
It is an important strategic goal of the GFZ to utilize software in the best possible way for the benefit of the center and to make it usable in the long term. The guideline on the exploitation and licensing of research software provides strategic measures and binding principles for this purpose. It forms the basic document of the GFZ on this topic and is supplemented by further documents and materials, each covering different aspects of the topic.
Guidelines on research software licensing and dissimination
The GFZ has developed a guideline for the transfer and making available of software. The internal process described therein is intended to ensure that all affected stakeholders of the GFZ are informed and necessary approvals are obtained before software is passed on.
Research Software Directory
The goal at the GFZ is to increase the visibility and discoverability of research software and thus to promote exchange and collaboration within and outside the scientific community.
A selection of software developed at the GFZ for different application areas and target groups can be found in the Helmholtz Research Software Directory.
Software reporting process
In order to publish software at the GFZ, it must first go through a review process. This process is initiated by submitting relevant metadata via a web form. The submitted software is then reviewed by the Legal Department, Technology Transfer and the eScience Center for compliance with the policy and provided with an appropriate license.
The GFZ offers many opportunities to network with like-minded people, to exchange ideas and to get actively involved when it comes to software engineering in research. In addition to many interest and working groups, we also host larger networking and information events for our RSE community at GFZ.
On September 14, 2022, our RSE Meet-Up took place at Telegrafenberg. A whole day just about those who develop software in research. The great talks and lively discussions in the individual workshops showed a clear picture: there are already many tools, platforms, infrastructures, processes and personal support opportunities that enable researchers at GFZ to work on sustainable and fair research software development.
Further internal support
In addition to the abov publicly available information on the use of research software at the GFZ, there are further internal documents and materials that are intended to promote and ensure the professional use of research software:
Templates for projects in Python, R, C++, Java, etc.
Sample license files and file headers
Sample Contributor License Agreements (CLA)
Assistance with the application of a Developer Certificate of Origin (DCO)
Samples for Software Transfer Agreements
Assistance for the tendering of software development contracts