Review checklist

JOSS reviews are checklist-driven. That is, there is a checklist for each JOSS reviewer to work through when completing their review. A JOSS review is generally considered incomplete until the reviewer has checked off all of their checkboxes.

Below is an example of the review checklist for the Yellowbrick JOSS submission.


Note this section of our documentation only describes the JOSS review checklist. Authors and reviewers should consult the review criteria to better understand how these checklist items should be interpreted.

Conflict of interest

  • I confirm that I have read the JOSS conflict of interest policy and that: I have no COIs with reviewing this work or that any perceived COIs have been waived by JOSS for the purpose of this review.

Code of Conduct

General checks

  • Repository: Is the source code for this software available at the repository url?
  • License: Does the repository contain a plain-text LICENSE file with the contents of an OSI approved software license?
  • Contribution and authorship: Has the submitting author made major contributions to the software? Does the full list of paper authors seem appropriate and complete?


  • Installation: Does installation proceed as outlined in the documentation?
  • Functionality: Have the functional claims of the software been confirmed?
  • Performance: If there are any performance claims of the software, have they been confirmed? (If there are no claims, please check off this item.)


  • A statement of need: Do the authors clearly state what problems the software is designed to solve and who the target audience is?
  • Installation instructions: Is there a clearly-stated list of dependencies? Ideally these should be handled with an automated package management solution.
  • Example usage: Do the authors include examples of how to use the software (ideally to solve real-world analysis problems).
  • Functionality documentation: Is the core functionality of the software documented to a satisfactory level (e.g., API method documentation)?
  • Automated tests: Are there automated tests or manual steps described so that the functionality of the software can be verified?
  • Community guidelines: Are there clear guidelines for third parties wishing to 1) Contribute to the software 2) Report issues or problems with the software 3) Seek support

Software paper

  • Summary: Has a clear description of the high-level functionality and purpose of the software for a diverse, non-specialist audience been provided?
  • A statement of need: Does the paper have a section titled ‘Statement of need’ that clearly states what problems the software is designed to solve, who the target audience is, and its relation to other work?
  • State of the field: Do the authors describe how this software compares to other commonly-used packages?
  • Quality of writing: Is the paper well written (i.e., it does not require editing for structure, language, or writing quality)?
  • References: Is the list of references complete, and is everything cited appropriately that should be cited (e.g., papers, datasets, software)? Do references in the text use the proper citation syntax?