The Big Effects of Short-term Efforts: A Catalyst for Community Engagement in Scientific Software

<p>Scientific progress relies crucially on software, yet in practice there are significant challenges to scientific software production and maintenance. We conducted a case study of a bioinformatics software library called Biopython to investigate the promise of Google Summer of Code (GSoC), a program that pays students to work on open-source projects for the summer, for addressing these challenges. We find that GSoC creates communication networks that engage students with mentors and the community at large. GSoC students learn how to contribute to the Biopython codebase and about software engineering principles more generally. We also find that GSoC benefits the Biopython community by bringing in new members, sometimes resulting in the addition of stable features into Biopython.</p>