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I wish to know whether there is some way, or maybe even some standard, for making a GitHub repository citable in a way that is recognized by academics. Many options have been suggested here, e.g., FigShare and Zenodo, but it seems to me that these routes are not actually established or taken seriously by academics.

For example, I made a Figshare DOI for my GitHub program in 2013 and it turned out to get zero citations, despite the paper related to the code getting many citations. People simply found citing something from Figshare to be awkward so the GitHub repository did not get citations the way an article would.

My question is: Is there any practical evidence that some way of making a GitHub repository citable is somewhat accepted? For example, can anyone please point me to any GitHub repositories that have actually been cited many times as recognized by Google Scholar?

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    Hi, user1271772. Welcome to Academia.SE. Unfortunately, what you're asking for is a "shopping question," since you're asking for a "list of X." A better question might be to ask "How do I get people to cite my online repository?" – aeismail May 27 '18 at 2:37
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    @aeismail: Unfortunately I am not interested in the answer to the question "how do I get people to cite my online repository". Honestly I think you're extending the concept of a shopping question to far outside of what it's original purpose was. I asked this question because I think there might be no examples at all, which makes this question very different from all the types of questions listed in the meta post that you gave a link to. How about if I edit the question to say "Is there any github repository with over 50 citations on Google Scholar without being published anywhere else?" – user1271772 May 27 '18 at 5:17
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    Then the question you should consider asking is: “How do I find examples of highly cited (code) repositories?” That gets you to your goal and still fits within our guidelines. – aeismail May 27 '18 at 6:39
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    @aeismail: I made the change, and then just before hitting the button that would publish the change I re-considered. Are you sure this is the best idea? I cannot imagine anyone answering the question you suggest. The answer to that question seems to be to ask here. – user1271772 May 27 '18 at 7:26
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    @Wrzlprmft: Well, I do see a point in having the list that I asked for. It would give me indication that there is some method, or maybe even some standard, for making a GitHub repository citable in a way that is recognized by academics. Figshare and Zenodo do not seem to be taken seriously by academics, but I might be wrong. I have no way to know whether or not I am wrong without this list. – user1271772 May 28 '18 at 0:40
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The Keras repository has an entry in Google Scholar with 1254 citations.

I'm not aware of the author having done anything special to make it "citable" though, other than giving an example in the FAQ of how to cite it.


For example, I made a Figshare DOI for my GitHub program in 2013 and it turned out to get zero citations, despite the paper related to the code getting many citations.

Personally, whenever I wish to "cite a repository", the first thing I do is check the repository's homepage / documentation / FAQ / etc. to see if the author(s) wrote any instructions on how to cite it. If there are any such instructions, I use those since I assume that that is how the author(s) prefer to be cited.

If there are no such instructions, my next step is to see if there is any (peer-reviewed) paper published by the author(s) of the repository that describes / uses / links to the repository, and cite that if there exists such a thing.

Only if there is no such paper do I consider directly citing the github link itself. The implicit assumption is that, unless there are explicit instructions stating otherwise, it is preferable to cite (peer-reviewed) papers over repositories.

  • If I try a new search and type Keras, the link with 1254 citations is to a PDF (that happens to be a dead link). – aeismail May 28 '18 at 13:04
  • @aeismail Yeah, I clicked the "All 4 versions" button for that one to get my link. That pdf appears to have been (old?) Chinese documentation (see how it starts with "KerasCN Documentation"), not a paper. The author's google scholar profile is here. He does have other publications, but none of them are specifically about Keras. – Dennis Soemers May 28 '18 at 13:16
  • But how would you know it’s about a repository? – aeismail May 28 '18 at 13:23
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    @aeismail Most people include the github url in the References when citing it. See, for example, this paper: www.jmlr.org/proceedings/papers/v48/gal16.pdf (the first one in the "Cited By" list on google scholar of the Keras entry) – Dennis Soemers May 28 '18 at 13:30
  • The Github link constitutes only 53 of those 1254 citations. – user1271772 May 28 '18 at 15:27

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