Chapter 15 Package Curation Policy

This chapter summarizes a proposed curation policy for rOpenSci’s ongoing maintenance of packages developed as part of rOpenSci activities and/or under the rOpenSci GitHub organization. This curation policy aims to support these goals:

  • Ensure packages provided by rOpenSci are up-to-date and high quality

  • Provide clarity as to the development status and and review status of any software in rOpenSci repositories

  • Manage maintenance effort for rOpenSci staff, package authors, and volunteer contributors

  • Provide a mechanism to gracefully sunset packages while maintaining peer-review badging

Elements of infrastructure described below needed for implementation of the policy are in some cases partly built and in other cases not yet begun. We aim to adopt this policy in part to prioritize work on these components.

15.1 The package registry

  • The rOpenSci package registry is a central listing of R packages currently or formerly maintained or reviewed by rOpenSci. It contains essential package metadata including development and review status, and will be the source of data for display on websites, badges, etc. It will allow this listing to be maintained independently of package or infrastructure hosting platforms.

15.2 Staff-maintained packages

Staff-maintained packages are developed and maintained by rOpenSci staff as part of rOpenSci projects. These packages may also be peer-reviewed packages, but are not necessarily peer reviewed. Many are infrastructure packages that fall out of scope for peer review.

  • Staff-maintained packages will be listed in the registry with tag “staff_maintained” and listed on rOpenSci’s packages web page or similar venues with tag “staff-maintained”

  • These packages will be stored in the “ropensci” GitHub organization

  • Staff-maintained packages and their docs will be built by rOpenSci system. This system does not send notifications but it outputs results as GitHub commit status (red check mark or red cross).

  • When the packages fail checks, rOpenSci staff will endeavor to fix changes, prioritizing packages based on user base (downloads), reverse dependencies, or strategic goals.

  • On a biannual or annual basis, rOpenSci will review all packages that have been failing for over a month to determine whether to transfer them to the “ropensci-archive” GitHub organization.

  • Packages consistently failing and without an ongoing plan to return to active maintenance will move to “archive” status. When archived, staff packages will move to the “ropensci-archive” repository (to be created) and and gain the “archived” type in the registry. They will not be built on rOpenSci system.

  • Archived packages will not be displayed by default on the packages web page. A special tab of packages pages will display these with "type": "archived" that were either peer-reviewed or staff-maintained.

  • Archived packages can be unarchived when the old or a new maintainer is willing to address the problems and wants to revive the package. For that please contact rOpenSci. They are transferred to the ropenscilabs organization.

15.3 Peer-reviewed packages

Peer-reviewed packages are those contributed to the rOpenSci by the community and have passed through peer review. They need to be in-scope at the time of submission to be reviewed.

  • Upon acceptance, these peer-reviewed packages are transferred from the author’s GitHub to the “ropensci” GitHub organization

  • Peer-reviewed packages will be in the registry tagged as “peer-reviewed” and have a peer-reviewed badge in their README.

  • Peer-reviewed packages will be listed on rOpenSci’s web page or similar venues with tag “peer-reviewed”

  • Peer-reviewed packages and their docs will be built by rOpenSci system. This system does not send notifications but it outputs results as GitHub commit status (red check mark or red cross).

  • If packages are on CRAN, package authors can choose to subscribe to the notifications of CRAN checks API.

  • Annually or bi-annually, rOpenSci staff will review packages in a failing state or have been failing for extended periods, and contact the authors to determine ongoing maintenance status and expected updates. Based on this exchange, rOpenSci may opt to retain the package’s current status with the expectation of an updates, contribute support or seek a new maintainer, or transfer the package to “archived” status.

  • Based on user base (measured by downloads), reverse dependencies, or rOpenSci strategic goals, rOpenSci staff may support failing packages via PRs reviewed by package authors, or direct changes (if authors are unresponsive for approximately a month). rOpenSci will also provide support to package authors on request, both by staff and community volunteers, based on time available.

  • At the author’s request, or if authors are unresponsive to inquiries for approximately a month, rOpenSci may seek a new maintainer for select peer-reviewed packages it deems have high community value based on user base/downloads, reverse dependencies, or rOpenSci strategic goals.

  • When archived, these packages will move from the “ropensci” GitHub organization to the “ropensci-archive” organization (or author GitHub accounts if desired), following transfer guidance. They will gain the “archived” type in the registry. They will retain “peer-reviewed” tags and badges. They will not be built on rOpenSci system.

  • Archived packages will not be displayed by default. A special tab of packages pages will display these with“type”: “archived”` that were either peer-reviewed or staff-maintained.

  • Archived packages may be unarchived if authors or a new person opt to resume maintenance. For that please contact rOpenSci. They are transferred to the ropenscilabs organization.

15.4 Legacy acquired packages

“Legacy” packages are packages not created or maintained by rOpenSci staff and not peer reviewed, but are under the rOpenSci GitHub organization(s) due to historical reasons. (Prior to establishing the peer review process and its scope, rOpenSci absorbed packages from various developers without well-defined criteria.)

  • rOpenSci will transfer legacy packages back to author organizations and repositories. If authors are uninterested, we will transfer them to the “ropensci-archive” repository following transfer guidance. If packages are in-scope, rOpenSci will inquire if authors would like to submit them to the Software Review process.

  • Legacy packages will not be listed in the package registry.

15.5 Incubator packages

“Incubator” packages are in-development packages created by staff or community members as part of community projects, such as those created at unconferences

  • Incubator packages will live in the “ropenscilabs” organization.

  • Incubator packages will appear in the package registry with the “incubator” tag

  • Incubator packages will not appear on the website by default, but packages pages will include an “experimental packages” tab.

  • Incubator packages and their docs will be built by rOpenSci system. This system does not send notifications but it outputs results as GitHub commit status (red check mark or red cross). The docs will indicate clearly the package is experimental.

  • Biannually or annually, rOpenSci will contact incubator maintainers about repositories at least three months old, inquiring about development status and author preferences for migration to peer-review, ropensci-archive, or to author organizations. Based on response, package will be migrated immediately, peer review will be initiated, or migration will be deferred to the next review. Incubator packages will be migrated to ropensci-archive by default after one year, following transfer guidance.

  • Archived incubator packages will gain the “archived” type.

15.5.1 Incubator non-R-packages

  • The “incubator” organization will also include non-R-package projects.

  • These projects will not be listed in the registry or appear on a web page, and will not be automatically built.

  • Migration policy will be the same as for R packages, with appropriate migration locations (e.g., ropensci-books)

  • If archived, non-R-packages will move to “ropensci-archive” following transfer guidance.

15.5.2 General guidance for transfer to ropensci-archive or authors account

  • Update the README (remove installation instructions, add reason for archival, link to this guidance).
  • Add a repostatus.org badge to the README (unsupported for former released packages, or abandoned if the package always only was a concept or WIP).
  • Close issues with a sentence explaining the situation and linking to this guidance.
  • Disable issues (under repo settings).

15.6 Books

rOpenSci books are long-form documentation, often bookdown-formatted, related to rOpenSci packages, projects, or themes, created by both rOpenSci staff and community members.

  • Books will live in the “ropensci-books” organization

  • Books will be hosted at books.ropensci.org

  • Books may be mature or in-development, but must have minimal outlines/content before migrating into “ropensci-books” (e.g. from “ropenscilabs”).

  • The authorship and development status of a book should be clearly described on its home page and README.

  • rOpenSci may provide badges or templates (e.g., “In development,” “Community Maintained,”) for authors to use on book home pages in the future