[Python-Dev] Official citation for Python

Wes Turner wes.turner at gmail.com
Thu Sep 13 00:46:17 EDT 2018

There was a thread about adding __cite__ to things and a tool to collect
those citations awhile back.

"[Python-ideas] Add a __cite__ method for scientific packages"

Which CPython source file should contain this __cite__ value?

... On a related note, you should ask the list admin to append a URL to
each mailing list message whenever this list is upgraded to mm3; so that
you can all be appropriately cited.

On Thursday, September 13, 2018, Wes Turner <wes.turner at gmail.com> wrote:

> Do you guys think we should all cite Grub and BusyBox and bash and libc
> and setuptools and pip and openssl and GNU/Linux and LXC and Docker; or
> else it's plagiarism for us all?
> #OpenAccess
> On Wednesday, September 12, 2018, Stephen J. Turnbull <
> turnbull.stephen.fw at u.tsukuba.ac.jp> wrote:
>> Chris Barker via Python-Dev writes:
>>  > But "I wrote some code in Python to produce these statistics" --
>>  > does that need a citation?
>> That depends on what you mean by "statistics" and whether (as one
>> should) one makes the code available.  If the code is published or
>> "available on request", definitely, Python should be cited.  If not,
>> and by "statistics" you mean the kind of things provided by Steven
>> d'Aprano's excellent statistics module (mean, median, standard
>> deviation, etc), maybe no citation is needed.  But anything more
>> esoteric than that (even linear regression), yeah, I would say you
>> should cite both Python and any reference you used to learn the
>> algorithm or formulas, in the context of mentioning that your
>> statistics are home-brew, not produced by one of the recognized
>> applications for doing so.
>>  > If so, maybe that would take a different form.
>> Yes, it would.  But not so different: eg, version is analogous to
>> edition when citing a book.
>>  > Anyway, hard to make this decision without some idea how the
>>  > citation is intended to be used.
>> Same as any other citation, (1) to give credit to those responsible
>> for providing a resource (this is why publishers and their metadata of
>> city are still conventionally included), and (2) to show where that
>> resource can be obtained.  AFAICS, both motivations are universally
>> applicable in polite society.  NB: Replication is an important reason
>> for wanting to acquire the resource, but it's not the only one.
>> I think underlying your comment is the question of *what* resource is
>> being cited.  I can think of three offhand that might be characterized
>> as "Python".  First, the PSF, as a provider of funding.  There is a
>> conventional form for this: a footnote on the title or author's name
>> saying "The author acknowledges [a] <purpose of grant such as travel>
>> grant [grant identifier if available] from the Python Software
>> Foundation."  I usually orally mention them in presentations, too.
>> That one's easy; *everybody* should *always* do that.
>> The rest of these, sort of an ideal to strive for.  If you keep a
>> bibliographic database, and there are now quite a few efforts to crowd
>> source them, it's easier to go the whole 9 yards than to skimp.  But
>> except in cases where we don't need to even mention the code, probably
>> we should be citing, for reasons of courtesy to readers as well as
>> authors, editors, and publishers (as disgusting as many publishers are
>> as members of society, they do play a role in providing many resources
>> ---we should find ways to compete them into good behavior, not
>> ostracize them).
>> The second is the Python *language and standard library*.  Then the
>> Language Reference and/or the Library Reference should be cited
>> briefly when Python is first mentioned, and in the text introducing a
>> program or program fragment, with a full citation in the bibliography.
>> I tentatively suggest that the metadata for the Language Reference
>> would be
>>     Author: principal author(s) (Guido?) et al. OR python.org OR
>>         Python Contributors
>>     Title: The Python Language Reference
>>     Version: to match Python version used (if relevant, different
>>         versions each get full citations), probably should not be
>>         "current"
>>     Publisher: Python Software Foundation
>>     Date: of the relevant version
>>     Location: City of legal address of PSF
>>     URL: to version used (probably should not be the default)
>>     Date accessed: if "current" was used
>> The Library reference would be the same except for Title.
>> The third is a *particular implementation*.  In that case the metadata
>> would be
>>     Author: principal author(s) (Guido) et al. OR python.org OR
>>         Python Contributors
>>     Title: The cPython Python distribution
>>     Python Version: as appropriate (if relevant, different versions each
>>         get full citations), never "current"
>>     Distributor Version: if different from Python version (eg, additional
>>         Debian cruft)
>>     Publisher: Distributor (eg, PSF, Debian Project, Anaconda Inc.)
>>     Date: of the relevant version
>>     Location: City of legal address of distributor
>> If downloaded:
>>     URL: to version used (including git commit SHA1 if available)
>>     Date accessed: download from distributor, not installation date
>> If received on physical medium: use the "usual" form of citation for a
>> collection of individual works (even if Python was the only thing on
>> it).  Probably the only additional information needed would be the
>> distributor as editor of the collection and the name of the
>> collection.
>> In most cases I can think of, if the implementation is cited, the
>> Language and Library References should be cited, too.
>> Finally, if Python or components were modified for the project, the
>> modified version should be preserved in a repository and a VCS
>> identifier provided.  This does not imply the repository need be
>> publicly accessible, of course, although it might be for other reasons
>> (eg, in a GSoC project,wherever or if hosted for free on GitHub).
>> I doubt that "URNs" like DOI and ISBN are applicable, but if available
>> they should be included in all cases as well.
>> Steve
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