I prepared a developmental version of an R package specific to my field of study. Now I would like to encourage more people to use it and contribute code. My plan is to release a technical note describing the package in a field-specific journal. MATLAB is dominating my area of research so I don't think that usual R-specific channels (CRAN or The R Journal) would be appropriate to reach this scientific community.

However, I could not find R-specific guidelines to releasing technical notes about R packages. This relates not only to this particular journal but scientific journals in general.

To be precise, I would like to know:

  • it is a common practice to write a technical note about a package that's only available on GitHub (no CRAN version yet)
  • at what stage of development the package should be so that it can be written up as a technical note
  • are there any guidelines to publishing technical notes about R packages

Can you think of any other considerations to keep in mind?


I am aware of the submission guidelines to The R Journal but I think that my package is not aimed at the general public and it's at a rather early stage of development.

This question was previously posted on StackOverflow but the moderators suggested that I post it here.

  • 3
    This is a very specific question for a very specific software (R). Not sure whether Academia SE is the right place. Feb 12, 2017 at 17:37
  • 1
    That's exactly what I thought, but the SO moderators closed the question and suggested I ask it here :/
    – epo3
    Feb 12, 2017 at 17:38
  • 1
    What is your technical subfield? Journals such as Source Code for Biology and Medicine exist for biology and medicine and similar journals probably exist your field as well. Feb 13, 2017 at 14:46
  • 1
    I'd strongly encourage you to submit your package to CRAN before the technical note is published. It's really not difficult if you can follow instructions.
    – user9482
    Feb 13, 2017 at 18:23
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because I don't see the connection to academia. Feb 14, 2017 at 0:23

1 Answer 1


Obviously you will need to do a bit of work to find the most appropriate journal for your field, but publishing an article about an R package is completely acceptable. In fact, "An R package for reading EPANET files" by Eck was published in Environmental Modelling & Software which describes itself as follows,

Environmental Modelling & Software publishes contributions, in the form of research articles, reviews and short communications, on recent advances in environmental modelling and/or software. The aim is to improve our capacity to represent, understand, predict or manage the behaviour of environmental systems at all practical scales, and to communicate those improvements to a wide scientific and professional audience.

  • Thanks. I do realise that it is possible to release a technical note about an R package. I even found some examples but I wasn't sure how the authors tackled the writing or at what stage of software development it was done. If the communal wisdom of SE won't help, then I'll try to contact the authors.
    – epo3
    Feb 13, 2017 at 17:54
  • @epo3 I'm actually working on a manuscript for EM&S for a Java package that I'm development. Let me know if you want my contact information since it is likely a conversation for outside of the SE.
    – anonymous
    Feb 13, 2017 at 18:02

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