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ZonMw and NWO commit to sustainable research software

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Credit: SeventyFour, via Shutterstock

(This news item was originally posted on the NWO website).

NWO and ZonMw have signed the Amsterdam Declaration on Funding Research Software Sustainability. By doing so, the research funders confirm their commitment to include research software in their  open science policies and to strengthen cooperation with other organisations in this area.

Software plays a central role in modern research. For many research projects, it is also an important form of output. Sustainable research software – source code files, algorithms, scripts, computational workflows and executables – is therefore crucial for the long-term success and impact of research. Moreover, reliable and well-maintained software is essential for the reproducibility of research results.

As funders, we recognise the ever-increasing importance of software in the research process 

Arfan Ikram, chairman of ZonMw and member NWO’s Executive Board

As funders, we recognise the ever-increasing importance of software in the research process. Sustainability, where research software is maintained for a longer period and can be used for multiple research projects, is a must as far as we are concerned. ZonMw and NWO will therefore take further steps in the coming period that contribute to improving software sustainability and the research software ecosystem,‘ says Arfan Ikram, chairman of ZonMw and responsible for open science in NWO’s Executive Board. ZonMw and NWO have long been committed to open science, of which open research software is a part. By signing the Amsterdam Declaration, they reinforce this commitment.

The Amsterdam Declaration on Funding Research Software Sustainability includes 12 recommendations, covering, among other things, the practice and ecosystem around research software, as well as the ethical aspects and personnel needed to develop and sustain research software. There is also a toolkit with resources to help implement the declaration, including examples of existing funding programmes.

The declaration originated at a meeting in Amsterdam in November 2022, when around 40 research funders and related organisations from around the world discussed the future and sustainability of research software. From the Netherlands, NWO, ZonMw, SURF and the Netherlands eScience Center took part in that meeting. After a year of consultations with parties worldwide, the declaration was finalised at the end of 2023. In the Netherlands, the Groningen Center for Information Technology and the Netherlands eScience Center already signed the declaration, as did ZonMW and NWO. Other funding organisations are currently being invited to also formally sign the declaration.