A current Fellow’s experience of the SSI Fellowship scheme

Posted by g.law on 16 October 2019 - 6:59am

Andrew%20Stewart.jpgBy Andrew Stewart, senior lecturer in the Division of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology at the University of Manchester

My academic background is rather mixed. I studied Computer Science for the first two years of my degree at the University of Glasgow, but after a brief student exchange at the University of California, Berkeley, I found myself interested in research topics that fell more broadly within the area of Cognitive Science. This resulted in a switch to Psychology and a PhD dissertation back in Glasgow in which I focused on human language processing. I continued this line of research when I took up a position at the University of Manchester.  

Since 2014 or so, I have found myself increasingly interested in issues around reproducibility in science, as well as coding and statistical literacy more generally. In 2018 I co-founded (along with Caroline Jay) the Open Research Working Group at the University of Manchester to act as a local node of the recently established UK Reproducibility Network. This coincided with the 2019 call for Fellows of the Software Sustainability Institute. As I read up about the Institute, and spoke with colleagues who were involved, I became increasingly interested in the range of activities the Institute supported. I realised that a SSI Fellowship could be useful to help me work with other Psychologists and Cognitive (Neuro)Scientists in the North West of England who were also keen to build a local community of people interested in issues around reproducibility and open research.

Being awarded one of the 2019 Fellowships has been hugely beneficial in helping me co-ordinate and deliver a range of activities and workshops around reproducibility and coding literacy not just at the University of Manchester, but also at Lancaster University, Keele University, and the University of Chester (as well as further afield). So far, the Fellowship has allowed me to run day-long workshops on coding in R to novices, deliver targeted sessions on text mining, as well as delivering broader talks on reproducible data visualisations, and using tools such as Binder to capture the user’s local computational environment. Having the Fellow ‘badge’ has also really helped in terms of getting other stakeholders on board. The Fellowship provides an external validation of my interests in reproducibility, and I suspect has also played a role in me being invited to sit on our University’s Open Research Strategy Group.  On February 26th 2020, we’ll be hosting a Reproducibility in Science half-day set of talks at the University of Manchester with a keynote delivered by Dorothy Bishop.

The Software Sustainability Institute Fellowship funding has played a critical role in supporting all these activities, and I very much recommend applying for one of their upcoming Fellowships.

Applications are open for the Fellowship Programme 2020. For more information and to apply, visit the Fellowship Programme page. Applications close on 29 October 2019.

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