The Scope of Packages that pyOpenSci Reviews#

The mission of pyOpenSci’s open peer review process is to:

  1. Support improving the quality, usability and discoverability of maintained scientific Python software in support of open science.

  2. We also support maintainers in navigating the Python packaging ecosystem.

We do not operate like a Journal, but we do partner with the Journal of Open Source software for those who wish to obtain a Journal paper through our review.

What types of packages does pyOpenSci review?#

pyOpenSci reviews higher level software packages that support scientific workflows.

Image showing the tiers of software in the python ecosystem starting with Python itself and as you move out packages become more domain specific. In this image packages like xarray and numpy are considered core to scientific python. Packages and distributions like astropy, simpeg and metpy are considered to be domain specific.

Diagram showing the tiers of software in the python ecosystem starting with Python itself and as you move out packages become more domain specific. In this image, packages such as xarray and numpy are considered core to scientific python. Packages and distributions like astropy, simpeg and metpy are considered domain specific. pyOpenSci’s review process focuses on domain specific packages rather than core packages as these packages tend to have more variability in long term maintenance and package infrastructure and quality compared with established core packages. Source: “Jupyter meets earth” project#

This is a living document

The categories below may change through time. This may mean in some cases, some previously peer review-accepted packages may not be in-scope today. We strive for consistency in our peer review process. However, we also evaluate packages on a case-by-case basis. In some cases exceptions are made.

Is Your Package in Scope For pyOpenSci Review?#

pyOpenSci reviews packages that fall within a list of specified categories and domains. Packages must also meet our technical scope requirements.

If you are unsure whether your package is in scope for review, please open a pre-submission inquiry using a GitHub Issue to solicit feedback from one of our editors. We are happy to look at your package and help you understand whether it is in scope or not.

About the types of packages that we review#

pyOpenSci reviews packages that support open reproducible science, data processing and the various stages of managing the data lifecycle. Packages submitted to pyOpenSci should fit into one or more of the categories below and should be within our technical scope.

Your Package Does Not Need to Widely Used to be Reviewed

We review packages with the goal of improving package quality and usability for scientists. As such, we review packages across a spectrum of small to large user bases. The popularity of your package is not a consideration in our review process!

When we evaluate whether your package is within our scope, we only consider:

  1. How the package is developed and

  2. How the package relates to and supports the broader scientific ecosystem.

We welcome young packages that are just entering the scientific Python ecosystem to apply for review if they are relevant to the science community and fit into at least one scope category below. We also welcome mature packages with a growing or established community!

Package categories that are in-scope for pyOpenSci#

The following are the current categories that fall into scope for pyOpenSci. In addition to fitting into one or more of these categories, your package should have some level of demonstrated scientific application. This could be a use case that you can link to or a tutorial that demonstrates its potential application for science.

Below we provide examples of packages from pyOpenSci ecosystem.


Many of the example packages below perform tasks that might fit in multiple categories. Examples are there to provide you with a flavor of the types of packages that would fall into that category.

Data retrieval#

Packages for accessing and downloading data from online sources. This category includes wrappers for accessing APIs.

Our definition of scientific applications is broad, including data storage services, journals, and other remote servers, as many data sources may be of interest to scientists. However, retrieval packages should be focused on data sources / topics, rather than services. For example a general client for Amazon Web Services data storage would not be in-scope.

Data extraction#

These packages aid in retrieving data from unstructured sources such as text, images, and PDFs. They might also parse scientific data types and outputs from scientific equipment.

Data processing and munging#

Data munging tools transform data in a way that makes further analysis possible (as defined on Wikipedia). Munging complements the other categories so it is common for packages to include some functionality to munge data. This category focuses on tools for handling data in specific formats that scientists may be interested in working with. These data may also be generated from scientific workflows or exported from instruments and wearables.

Data deposition#

Tools for depositing data into scientific research repositories.

Data validation and testing:#

Tools that enable automated validation and checking of data quality and completeness. These tools should be able to support scientific workflows.

Scientific software wrappers#

Scientific software wrappers refer to packages that provide a Python interface for existing scientific packages written in other languages.

These packages should have a clear scientific application. Wrappers must provide significant added value to the scientific ecosystem be it in data handling, or improved installation processes for Python users.

We strongly encourage submissions that wrap tools that are open-source with an OSI-approved license. Exceptions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration whether open-source options exist.

Workflow automation and versioning#

Tools that automate and link together workflows and as such support reproducible workflows. These tools may include build systems and tools to manage continuous integration. This also includes tools that support version control.

  • Examples: Both of these tools are not pyOpenSci reviewed as of yet but are examples of tools that might be in scope for this category - snakemake, pyGitHub

Citation management and bibliometrics:#

Tools that facilitate managing references, such as for writing manuscripts, creating CVs or otherwise attributing scientific contributions, or accessing, manipulating or otherwise working with bibliometric data. (Example: Example from rOpenSci - RefManageR)

Data visualization and analysis#

These are packages that enhance a scientist’s experience in visualizing and analyzing data.

Database software bindings#

Bindings and wrappers for database APIs.

Scope for packages that support analytics, statistics and modeling#

pyOpenSci is not a scientific journal. As such we are not able to review software packages that present novel or new models and statistical / analytics approaches without previous review of the analytical approach by a credible journal.

We consider the following when determining whether an analytics-related package is within our review scope:

  1. If your package facilitates a scientist using a known or vetted statistical, AI or Analytical approach we consider that in-scope. Before submitting to us, please ensure that your package’s documentation directs users to existing paper(s) or pre-print(s) that document that approach’s application. Further, be sure to link to these publications in your package review submission.

The review for this package:

  • requires at least 1 domain specialist

  • will never vet the analytical method itself.

  1. If your package introduces a novel or newer analytic approach that is not yet vetted/ accepted by a scientific journal, we can not review it. We cannot review projects that exist as a proof-of-concept demonstration of a model or analytical approach that might accompany a paper. In this case, the approach should be sent to a scientific journal for vetting.

If your package introduces a new(er) approach that has been community vetted via a scientific Journal then we can potentially review the package for usability, documentation and packaging quality. Please submit a pre-submission inquiry first.

If you are unsure whether your package fits into one of the general or statistical categories, please open an issue as a pre-submission inquiry.

Domain areas#

In addition, our scope includes focused domain areas. These areas are based on partnerships that we form with communities and also expertise that we hold within our organization. As we develop new community partnerships and grow, we will expand this list.


Packages focused on the retrieval, manipulation, and analysis of spatial data.


Packages to aid with instruction.



We have a community affiliated package partnership with Astropy. Check out packages that are under review and will be considered for Astropy affiliated status here.


We have a partnership with Pangeo. Often times packages submitted as a part of that partnership are also in the geospatial domain.

Package technical scope#

What if my package seems like its category or domain is out of scope?#

  • pyOpenSci is still developing as a community. If your scientific Python package does not fit into one of the categories or if you have any other questions, we encourage you to open a pre-submission inquiry. We’re happy to help.

  • Data visualization packages come in many varieties, ranging from small hyper-specific methods for one type of data to general, do-it-all packages (e.g. matplotlib). pyOpenSci accepts packages that are somewhere in between the two. If you’re interested in submitting your data visualization package, please open a pre-submission inquiry first.

Examples of packages that might be out of technical scope#

pyOpenSci may continue to update its criteria for technical scope review as more packages with varying structural approaches are reviewed. Your package may not be in technical scope for us to review at this time if it fulfills any of the out-of-technical-scope criteria listed below.

Your package is in technical scope if it is:

  • Pure Python or Python with built extensions

  • Available from PyPI and/or community conda channels such as conda-forge or bioconda

Your package might be out of in technical scope if it is:

  • Not published in a community channel such as PyPI or a channel on anaconda cloud

  • Exceedingly complex in its structure or maintenance needs

A few examples of packages that may be too technically challenging for us to find a new maintainer for in the future are below.

Example 1: Your package is an out of sync fork of another package repository that is being actively maintained.#

Sometimes we understand that a package maintainer may need to step down. In that case, we strongly suggest that the original package owner, transfer the package repository to a new organization along with PyPI credentials. A new organization would allow transfer of ownership of package maintenance rather than several forks existing.

If your package is a divergent fork of a maintained repository we will encourage you to work with the original maintainers to merge efforts.

However, if there is a case where a forked repository is warranted, please consider submitting a pre-submission inquiry first and explain why the package is a fork rather than an independent parent repository.

Example 2: Vendored dependencies#

If your package is a wrapper that wraps around another tool, we prefer that the dependency be added as a dependency to your package. This allows maintenance of the original code base to be independent from your package’s maintenance.

Package Overlap#

pyOpenSci encourages competition among packages, forking and re-implementation as they improve options of users. However, we strive to make packages in the pyOpenSci suite to represent our top recommendations for the tasks that they perform. We aim to avoid duplication of functionality of existing Python packages in any repo without significant improvements. A Python package that replicates the functionality of an existing package may be considered for inclusion in the pyOpenSci suite if it significantly improves on alternatives by being:

  • More open in licensing or development practices

  • Broader in functionality (e.g., providing access to more data sets, providing a greater suite of functions), but not only by duplicating additional packages

  • Better in usability and performance

  • Actively maintained while alternatives are poorly or no longer actively maintained

These factors should be considered as a whole to determine if the package is a significant improvement. A new package would not meet this standard only by following our package guidelines while others do not, unless this leads to a significant difference in the areas above.

We recommend that packages highlight differences from and improvements over overlapping packages in their README and/or vignettes or get started tutorials.

We encourage developers whose packages are not accepted due to overlap to still consider submittal to other repositories or journals.