Image_1_GitHub Statistics as a Measure of the Impact of Open-Source Bioinformatics Software.TIFF

2018-12-18T04:26:31Z (GMT) by Mikhail G. Dozmorov

Modern research is increasingly data-driven and reliant on bioinformatics software. Publication is a common way of introducing new software, but not all bioinformatics tools get published. Giving there are competing tools, it is important not merely to find the appropriate software, but have a metric for judging its usefulness. Journal's impact factor has been shown to be a poor predictor of software popularity; consequently, focusing on publications in high-impact journals limits user's choices in finding useful bioinformatics tools. Free and open source software repositories on popular code sharing platforms such as GitHub provide another venue to follow the latest bioinformatics trends. The open source component of GitHub allows users to bookmark and copy repositories that are most useful to them. This Perspective aims to demonstrate the utility of GitHub “stars,” “watchers,” and “forks” (GitHub statistics) as a measure of software impact. We compiled lists of impactful bioinformatics software and analyzed commonly used impact metrics and GitHub statistics of 50 genomics-oriented bioinformatics tools. We present examples of community-selected best bioinformatics resources and show that GitHub statistics are distinct from the journal's impact factor (JIF), citation counts, and alternative metrics (Altmetrics, CiteScore) in capturing the level of community attention. We suggest the use of GitHub statistics as an unbiased measure of the usability of bioinformatics software complementing the traditional impact metrics.