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

Andrei Kucharavy andrei.kucharavy at gmail.com
Wed Jun 27 17:20:01 EDT 2018

Over the last 10 years, Python has slowly inched towards becoming the most
popular scientific computing language, beating or seriously challenging
Matlab, R, Mathematica and many specialized languages (S, SAS, ...) in
numerous applications.

A large part of this growth is driven by amazing community packages, such
as numpy, scipy, scikits-learn, scikits-image, seaborn or pandas, just to
name a few. Development of such packages represents a significant time
investment by people working in academic environments. To be able to
justify the investment of time into such package development and support,
the developers usually associated them with a scientific article. The
number of citations of those articles are considered as measures of the
usefulness of articles and are required to justify the time spent on them.

Unfortunately, as of now, a significant issue is that such packages are not
cited despite being extensively used. Part of this is due to the
difficulties with compiling the list of proper citations for each module
(and, for libraries associated with multiple update publications, selecting
the relevant citation). Part of this is due to users not realizing which of
the modules they are using have associated publications and should be cited.

To remediate to that situation, I suggest a __citation__ method associated
to each package installation and import. Called from the __main__,
__citation__() would scan __citation__ of all imported packages and return
the list of all relevant top-level citations associated to the packages.

As a scientific package developer working in academia, the problem is quite
serious, and the solution seems relatively straightforward.

What does Python core team think about addition and long-term maintenance
of such a feature to the import and setup mechanisms? What do other users
and scientific package developers think of such a mechanism for citations


*Andrei Kucharavy*Post-Doc @ *Joel S. Bader*
* Lab*Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA.
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