This year, we got two best demo awards:

And I’m proud of it. You may think that these are just very minor awards. It’s not like the best paper award or a most influential award. True. They are not that important. But I’d argue they are quite close as they are one of the few ways we have to acknowledge and recognize the longs hours that the people behind the tool invested in it. The artifact evaluation badges are another alternative but less visible (especially for external evaluation committees that already have trouble understanding that evaluation goes beyond counting papers).

We all know that creating tools and, even more, maintaining them is challenging. Any initiative to reward their creation is more than welcome. One thing that you can easily do is never cite the tool itself, but the paper (if any) behind it. I know it sounds counterintuitive but, until tools are better considered in CVs, at least you can make sure the authors increase their overall number of citations. A footnote to a GitHub repository helps nobody.

I wonder how the total citation count, h-index, and i-indexes of some researchers would change if, every time somebody used their tool in a research paper, they would have got a citation credit for it. I bet that for a few ones, the change would be spectacular.

One way or another, please keep creating tools if you want to have some real impact. Industry people don’t read papers but they do use our tools.

I’d like to finish with this quote (taken from this interview) by Jason Flinn, an academic that moved to Indutry

At Facebook Core Systems, my focus has been first on building the systems, deploying them at scale, and learning from them. I can let the systems bake and evolve over time before writing a paper that describes what we did. This process leads to fewer papers, but I hope it also leads to stronger papers like the early industry papers I admire – Jason Flinn

Indeed, sometimes in our current research system, it is easier to publish about X without actually taking the time to build it than to first build X and then publish about it.