Software and research: the Institute's Blog

Sustainable Domain-Specific Training

Latest version published on 5 December, 2018.

By Ben Companjen, Nicky Nicolson, Marcin Wolski, Graeme Andrew Stewart, and Anastasis Georgoulas. As more research fields develop some computational aspects, teaching good software practices and development becomes essential across the scientific spectrum. With the exception of some disciplines with a strong computing tradition, students and staff in most other areas have to adopt generic materials, which are quite often limited in scope or make unrealistic assumptions about the background of their audience.

Training and Collaboration

Latest version published on 5 December, 2018.

By Raniere Silva, Software Sustainability Institute, and Aleksandra Nenadic, Software Sustainability Institute. Educational psychology provides us with great findings about the process of human learning that can help educators provide more effective training to learners. Because their curriculum is sometimes full, many researchers, developers and publishers don't know about those findings when they start their careers as educators, just like researchers might be unfamiliar with best software developer practices because they weren't taught them.

Abandon hope, we are archiving things we can’t use: considerations for documenting complex objects

Latest version published on 4 December, 2018.

By Daina Bouquin, Christopher Ball, Anna-Lena Lamprecht, Catherine Jones, Tyler J. Skluzacek. Containers, virtual machines, Jupyter notebooks, web applications, and data visualisations that run in a browser are all examples of complex digital objects made up of multiple components. Each of those components may have unique dependencies (hardware, software, external datasets, etc.) and different “authors”.  Each component will also have different expected functionalities and may even have different licenses.

Making Software a First-Class Citizen in Research

Latest version published on 28 November, 2018.

By Mateusz Kuzak, Maria Cruz, Carsten Thiel, Shoaib Sufi, and Nasir Eisty. We argue that research software should be treated as a first-class research output, in equal footing to research data. Research software and research data are both fundamental to contemporary research. However, the recognition of the importance of research software as a valuable research output in its own right is lagging behind that of research data.   

How do we evaluate research software to meet different requirements?

Latest version published on 27 November, 2018.

By Alexander Struck, Chris Richardson, Matthias Katerbow, Rafael Jimenez, Carlos Martinez-Ortiz, and Jared O'Neal. Software written to solve research questions gains more recognition as a research result of its own and requires evaluation in terms of usability as well as its potential to facilitate high-impact and reproducible research. Indeed, in recent times there has been increased emphasis on the importance of reproducibility in science – particularly of results where software is involved. In order to tackle this problem, there have been efforts for evaluating reproducibility of research…

Credit and recognition for research software: Current state of practice and outlook

Latest version published on 3 December, 2018.

By Stephan Druskat, Daniel S. Katz, David Klein, Mark Santcroos, Tobias Schlauch, Liz Sexton-Kennedy, and Anthony Truskinger. Like the behemoth cruise ship leaving the harbour of Amsterdam that overshadowed our discussion table at WSSSPE 6.1, credit for software is a slowly moving target, and it’s a non-trivial task to ensure that the right people get due credit. In this blog post, we aim to review the current state of practice in terms of credit for research software. We also attempt to summarise recent developments and outline a more ideal state of affairs.

Dabbling In Deep Learning

Latest version published on 27 November, 2018.

By Adam Tomkins, Software Sustainability Institute Fellow. Like most programmers, I’ve heard all about all the latest advances in Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning, but, being stuck deep in a software project of my own, deep learning has remained thoroughly on the outskirts of my professional life. However, I’ve been ruminating on some problems that could serve as my nice on-ramp into the deep earning development community, and I’ve given it a fair few shots over the years. Unlike any other technology I’ve dabbled in, there always seems to be something in the way of what should be a…

Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar: Protecting research integrity: reproducibility, the impact of the REF and improving governance

Latest version published on 27 November, 2018.

By Martin Donnelly, Research Data Support Manager at University of Edinburgh, and Software Sustainability Institute Fellow. Reproducibility and integrity rank highly among the justifications for the ever-increasing attention to the mindful management and preservation of research data and software that we have seen in the last decade. These issues are often at the front of my mind in my day job managing my institution’s Research Data Support function, so I was naturally very happy to get the opportunity to travel to London in October to attend the most recent Westminster Higher Education Forum…

The main obstacles to better research data management and sharing are cultural. But change is in our hands.

Latest version published on 27 November, 2018.

By Marta Teperek and Alastair Dunning, TU Delft. Recommendations on how to better support researchers in good data management and sharing practices are typically focused on developing new tools or improving infrastructure. Yet research shows the most common obstacles are actually cultural, not technological. Marta Teperek and Alastair Dunning outline how appointing data stewards and data champions can be key to improving research data management through positive cultural change.

Bash Scripting Workshop

Latest version published on 19 November, 2018.

By Becky Arnold, University of Sheffield. On the 7th of November, Raniere Silva of the Software Sustainability Institute gave a one day workshop on bash scripting at the University of Sheffield. The Unix shell has tremendous power. This workshop was geared towards researchers that had some experience of working on Unix-like systems, but wanted to build on that to better exploit its full potential. Will Furnass of the University of Sheffield Research Software Engineering group also helped out at this event.