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Amsterdam Declaration on Funding Research Software Sustainability

The crucial role of software in research is becoming increasingly apparent, as is the urgent need to sustain it and to invest in the people who develop and maintain it. Research software sustainability is vitally important for the reproducibility of research outcomes and has a direct bearing on the process of research, including the efficient use of financial and human resources.

Funders can play a crucial role in ensuring software sustainability by structurally supporting it. Over the past few years, a variety of methods for sustaining research software have been explored, including improving and extending funding policies and instruments. During the International Funders Workshop: The Future of Research Software held on 8-9 November 2022 in Amsterdam, funding organisations joined forces to explore how to effectively contribute to making research software sustainable. This resulted in the Amsterdam Declaration on Funding Research Software Sustainability.

The Declaration builds on actions undertaken by the Research Software Alliance, the Research Software Funders Forum, research funding organisations, and the community surrounding it to develop awareness about the role funders can play in sustaining software in the longer term. The Declaration is a first step to formalise, on a global level, the basic principles and recommendations related to funding the sustainability of research software, including the people needed to achieve this goal.

For the purpose of this Declaration, research software is defined as: “Source code files, algorithms, scripts, computational workflows and executables that were created during the research process or for a research purpose. Software components (e.g., operating systems, libraries, dependencies, packages, scripts, etc.) that are used for research but were not created during or with a clear research intent should be considered software in research and not Research Software. This differentiation may vary between disciplines.” (Gruenpeter 2021, as implemented in the FAIR for Research Software Principles)

Research software may or may not be open-source software, while not all open-source software is research software. The reusability of research software is essential to its sustainability. Reusability ultimately depends on people, who need to have the skills to enable reusability and be incentivised to do so; infrastructures, which need to exist to support the discoverability of research software to facilitate reuse; and funding and policies,which are needed to encourage reuse.