Leading Professional Society for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Connecting, Training, Empowering, Worldwide

ISCB Software Sharing Policy


This software sharing statement is intended to address the ability of the scientific community to reproduce and build on research findings reported in scientific publications or generated with public funds. ISCB recognizes the value of commercial bioinformatics software. With respect to commercial software and scientific publications, we support the recommendations of the NAS report.

- top -


Bioinformatics software availability is extremely important to the field of bioinformatics. The International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) is committed to the advancement of the understanding of living systems through computation. In support of that mission, we believe that research results should be shared with the scientific community so that they can be reproduced and built upon. Scientific research may include the development of software and algorithms. Therefore, ISCB is disseminating this statement to make recommendations on software availability policies for funders of bioinformatics research, for scientific journals that publish bioinformatics research, for bioinformatics researchers, and for their employers.

This statement has been revised from the original 2002 statement, incorporating feedback from the ISCB membership.

- top -


  1. Publishers, granting organizations, employers and researchers have a responsibility to uphold the core principle of sharing methods and results. If a researcher's software is necessary to understand, reproduce and build on scientific results, then the software should be made available. This principle is imperative for peer-reviewed scientific publications, recommended policy for granting agencies, and encouraged practice wherever individuals and organizations are committed to advancing science. ISCB supports the recommendations of the National Academies of Sciences report, "Sharing Publication-Related Data and Materials: Responsibilities of Authorship in the Life Sciences."
  2. Grantors and publishers should require statements of software availability in grant proposals and research reports. These statements should clearly describe how to obtain the software, and terms of use. The statements should be specific about cost, source code availability, redistribution rights (including for derived works), user support, and any discrimination among user types. The nature of software distribution is an appropriate criterion for consideration in the review of manuscripts and grant proposals, to assess the significance and impact the work is likely to have. Authors of statements of availability should be held accountable by journals, granting agencies and employers for delivering on their software's promised availability. The rights granted to the software user should be irrevocable.
  3. No single licensing or distribution model is appropriate for all research projects, and therefore no single model should be mandated by either publishers or grantors.
  4. Individuals, institutions, and businesses engaged in research in computational biology should recognize the primacy of dissemination and further research and choose licenses accordingly.

- top -

Implementation when Software Sharing is Warranted

  1. In most cases, it is preferable to make source code available.We recommend that executable versions of the software should be made available for research use.
  2. Open source licenses are one effective way to share software. For more information, see the definition of open source, and example licenses, at www.opensource.org.

Click here to Review blog comments made during the 2008 revision period from the ISCB membership and bioinformatics community.
Click here to Review the original policy posted 5/21/2002

- top -