Software and research: the Institute's Blog

Learn how to use national e-resources and manage your software and data

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

If you want to learn how to use national e-resources and manage your software and data, then register for the SeIUCCR  e-Infrastructure Summer School - there's only a few days left before registration closes on 15 August 2011.

Register for the event at the registration website.

The EPSRC-funded SeIUCCR project - pronounced sucker - holds its first four-day summer school at the idyllic Cosener's House in Abingdon (near Oxford) next month.

Exclusively for UK doctoral and postdoctoral researchers, the…

EGI training marketplace

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

By Richard McLennan and reproduced courtesy of EGI.

The new EGI Training Marketplace (developed by a dedicated team at STFC) went live on the 7 June and having now tested it, viewed it, talked about it and changed just a little here and there, the time has come to promote this potentially great addition to the EGI tool box. Why only potentially? Put simply, the Training Market place is a shiny new tool that needs users of grid computing to really start using it.

Visit the Training Marketplace.

While wondering how to introduce this new facility to…

Excellent progress on Collaborations Workshop outcomes

Latest version published on 3 October, 2016.

Back in June, I was asked to write about the fact that we've made every aspect of the Collaborations Workshop open. I wrote an article for the NGS Newsletter entitled "The fear of being open", in which I talked about the benefits (and fears) of working under the scutiny of the outside world. I also said that we would periodically review progress on the outcomes (the things that people thought would help the research community). We've just conducted the first review, and I'm very happy to report that we've completed almost half (13 out of 32) of the outcomes in the first…

Open Research Computation: an ordinary journal with extraordinary aims.

Latest version published on 10 November, 2016.

Open Research Computation (ORC) is a new journal that is dedicated to the discussion of software and services. It prime focus is on the standards to which software is developed, the reproducibility of the results it generates, and the accessibility of the software to analysis, critique and re-use. Cameron Neylon, ORC’s editor-in-chief, describes why he set up the journal and how it will help researchers build better software – a goal that’s shared by the Software Sustainability Institute.

I spend a lot of my time arguing that many of the problems in the research community are…

Ask Steve! - As a developer, why should you care about the research field you work in?

Latest version published on 30 September, 2016.

“Programming is 10% science, 20% ingenuity, and 70% getting the ingenuity to work with the science.” – Anon

Supporting scientists in programming

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

Programming is becoming an increasingly important part of scientific research, yet many scientists are self-taught programmers with little formal training. This means that scientists are often unfamiliar with simple tools that can make programming and dealing with data faster, more reliable and more reproducible.

To follow-on and develop the work of the Effective Scientific Programming workshop held at the University of Newcastle on Monday 20 June 2011, the organising team have set up a web page with the workshop materials and links to additional resources.

A number of…

Ask Steve! - Use software in your project? After some travel money? Become an Agent!

Latest version published on 30 September, 2016.

One of the big problems with research, particularly in these austere times, is finding the money to travel to all those great conferences. You miss opportunities to present your work, and you can miss out on discovering first hand what is afoot in your research field.

The great news is that if you use software in your research and you have a good understanding of what’s happening in your field, funding is available from the Software Sustainability Institute

Agent applications start to flood in

Latest version published on 6 October, 2016.

Whenever we come up with a good idea, there’s always the worry that the rest of the world won’t share in our excitement. Not so, the Agents network. We’ve been slowly ramping up publicity over the last couple of weeks, and the applications have started to flood in (just yesterday, we received eight applications, and at 13.27 today, it looks like we'll break that record). Even better, we’re getting applications from all round the country and from all disciplines.

This is great news for the Agents network of course, but what does it mean to everyone else? If we get enough…

Ask Steve! - A unit test framework in MATLAB?

Latest version published on 30 September, 2016.

You may recall a while back I looked at test-driven development, and covered unit testing. Well, I received a related question asking whether there was a unit test framework for MATLAB, so let’s have a quick look at a few of these…

Arguably the most popular is the xUnit Test Framework, which is compatible with…

Why is reproducibility important?

Latest version published on 3 October, 2016.

The second discussion session at the Effective Scientific Programming workshop in Newcastle, chaired by James Perry, focused on reproducible results and related issues. We discussed why reproducibility is important, what obstacles get in the way of achieving it, and noted some real-world examples where reproducibility came into play.


Maybe the most obvious reason is correctness. If you run your code twice and get different results each time, how do you know which (if either) are correct? It also enables others to re-run your code and verify that they get the same results…