Recommendations for software citation are made across two axis: for developers and for end users. This distinction underscores the differences between the needs of the audience and creator, where the audience (end user) needs to understand how the value of the software they use can and should be transmitted through the secondary and tertiary products of that use: research, application, publication or integration with other software.

The software creators, however, set the stage for the audience’s perception of their software’s value through a variety of means, not the least of which is the clear indication of how software should be acknowledged and situated in various contexts such as publications. Without clear acknowledgement and citation guidance, the audience is left to their own devices about when, where and how the software they use should be acknowledged. Up to this point, leaving this expectation to be fulfilled by the audience has yielded uneven and suboptimal results.

The following sections will detail how creators (developers) and audience (users) should approach software citation: