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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Jupyter notebooks as discovery mechanisms for open science: Citation practices in the astronomy community


Citing data and software is a means to give scholarly credit and to facilitate access to research objects. Citation principles encourage authors to provide full descriptions of objects, with stable links, in their papers. As Jupyter notebooks aggregate data, software, and other objects, they may facilitate or hinder citation, credit, and access to data and software. We report on a study of references to Jupyter notebooks in astronomy over a 5-year period (2014-2018). References increased rapidly, but fewer than half of the references led to Jupyter notebooks that could be located and opened. Jupyter notebooks appear better suited to supporting the research process than to providing access to research objects. We recommend that authors cite individual data and software objects, and that they stabilize any notebooks cited in publications. Publishers should increase the number of citations allowed in papers and employ descriptive metadata-rich citation styles that facilitate credit and discovery.

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