The Software Sustainability Institute’s Collaborations Workshop series brought together researchers, developers, innovators, managers, funders, publishers, leaders and educators to explore best practices and the future of research software. Collaborations Workshop 2019 (CW19) took place from Monday 1st to Wednesday 3rd April 2019 at Loughborough University in the West Park Teaching Hub, Loughborough.
The themes of the workshop were interoperability, documentation, training and sustainability.
Interoperability of data on the first version of Unix was "limited" to standard output and plain text. At that time, if you wanted to write a program that would collaborate with another one that was part of the Unix system, your program needed to support standard input and plain text. Today, we have too many formats—some, like XML, are standards established by international organisations, while others, like Markdown, are governed by single individuals or companies. Specialised formats help researchers on their day-to-day job but, like in the case of legacy format, can also slow down their investigations. What researchers and research software engineers can do to promote better interoperability between tools and for tools that are running in the cloud?
21% of researchers have no training in software development (S.J. Hettrick et al, UK Research Software Survey 2014), and 83% of developers learn on their own from official documentation (Stack Overflow Developer Survey Results 2018). These figures show that documentation plays an important role when spreading best practices, but for that dissemination to happen effectively the documentation must be above average. What are best practices when documenting your project? What can researchers learn from tech writers?
Many organisations, including us, are teaching computational and data skills, to researchers and other professionals. Trainers empower their learners by providing a positive learning environment and act as facilitators in the learner’s discovery of new skills. What can trainers learn from educational psychology? How can trainers benefit from a community of practices?
The Software Sustainability Institute invites all members of the research software community to explore and discuss the themes described above and other related issues at CW19.
CW19 attendees will gain insight into the topics of Interoperability, Documentation, Training and Sustainability and how these impact and will impact on research. It is also an ideal opportunity to form collaborations (on average, attendees of CW start two new collaborations by attending) and to discuss topics proposed by attendees. CW19 is a great place to network and participants will meet many of the new and existing Software Sustainability Institute Fellows – key ambassadors in varied research domains.
Some aspects around interoperability, documentation, training and sustainability that will be covered in the workshop are:
Interoperability and documentation in research software
Training in the research environment
Best practices when connecting research software
Best practices on documentation and training
Tools to help code software that will send data to and from other software
Tools to help write documentation for end-users and developers
Tools to make training sessions more productive for learners