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I have some specific knowledge in a software widely used in experimental condensed matter physics. Currently, different groups implement their different programs using this software. I plan to write a "universal" program that might be used with little to no modifications by researchers worldwide. I plan for it to be free and open source, but I would like to publish the work in a journal for the sake of getting citations.

Question: since writing such a program requires time and effort, I think it makes sense to request researchers who would use the program to cite my paper. Right?

Note: I know that many people do this, but I would like to hear different viewpoints.

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The preceding software are all open-source research software, each referenced by dozens, sometimes hundreds of research papers. It is expected that an open-source package developed by a research team will have an accompanying paper or set of papers, and that the users will cite those papers when using the package. You should make this very clear on the package website. (You do have a website for the software, right?)


To expand on this a bit, it is assumed that any research-level software package will have at least one accompanying paper, typically more, describing both the software, the functionality, and the algorithms. If you don't have that, people simply won't trust it. From my experience, most packages come from researchers with a good deal of experience/publications under their belt, who have decided to make their own scripts and techniques available for the general community. Given that it is quite difficult to obtain funding for this sort of thing until the software—and, by extension, you—is already very popular, you're essentially going to do most of the development on your "free time", which makes this a highly thankless task.

That all said, if software is your thing, go for it! If your software makes analysis easier, you can have an outsized impact on your field.

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