3631348557_7d705f856e_z.jpgBy Andrew Walker, Sam Mangham, Robert Maftei, Adam Jackson, Becky Arnold, Sammie Buzzards, and Eike Mueller

This post is part of the Collaborations Workshops 2018 speed blogging series.

Good practice guides demand tests are written alongside our software and continuous integration coupled to version control is supposed to enable productivity, but how do these ideas relate to the development of scientific software? Here we consider five ways in which tests and continuous integration can fail when developing scientific software in an attempt to illustrate what could work in this context. Two recurring themes are that scientific software is often large and unwieldy—sometimes taking months to run on the biggest computer systems in the world—, and that its development often goes hand in hand with scientific research. There isn’t much point writing a test that runs for weeks and then produces an answer when you have no idea if the answer is correct. Or is there?  

1. Test fails but doesn’t say why


This one kind of explains itself. If the test doesn’t tell you what’s wrong, how are you…

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7838388322_8883573e4e_z.jpgBy Martin Callaghan, University of Leeds, Daniel S. Katz, University of Illinois, Alexander Struck, Cluster of Excellence Image Knowledge Gestaltung, HU-Berlin, and Matt Williams, University of Bristol, 

This post is part of the Collaborations Workshops 2018 speed blogging series.

This blog post is the result of a discussion group during the Collaborations Workshop 2018 organised by the Software Sustainability Institute. We talked about some national and institutional efforts being made to establish RSE groups and positions and are writing this blog to share our thoughts. The most successful of these RSE efforts have come from within UK universities. We believe sharing strategies and case studies on how to implement pilots should help grassroots movements and support…

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4825668491_2d9d7902c2_z.jpgBy M. H. Beals, Catherine Jones, Geraint Palmer, Mike Jackson, Henry Wilde, John Hammersley, Daniel Grose, Robin Long, Adrian-Tudor Panescu, Kirstie Whitaker

This post is part of the Collaborations Workshops 2018 speed blogging series.

What does reproducible mean? Who do we want to help and support by making our research reproducible? At what point does non-reproducible research become good enough (and carries on to the highest standards of reproducibility?)

In our discussions during the first speed blogging session at the Software Sustainability Institute’s Collaborations Workshop in Cardiff in March 2018, we brainstormed criteria for judging the quality of reproducible research. What emerged were two clear messages: 1) We all have our own overlapping definitions of the desirable features of reproducible research, and 2) there is no great benefit in rehashing old discussions.

In this blog post we outline 9 criteria that can be met by reproducible research. We believe that meeting as many of these as possible is moving in the right direction. Source code and data availability are often seen as important requirements, but documenting what code is trying to achieve, which other software libraries are required to run the code, the greater research ecosystem, what lessons were learned in the development of the…

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30625118805_850c6840e2_z.jpgCollaborations Workshop 2018 (CW18) will start next Monday 26th of March at The School of Mathematics, Cardiff University. We are looking forward to meeting everyone in person and have a great time. The final agenda is available at the workshop page.

To make the best of Collaborations Workshop, don't forget to sign up to present a lightning talk and to take part in the social activities.

The Software Sustainability Institute staff will be attending this event. We will aim to answer all emails but might take us while to get back to you. You can also contact us on Twitter @SoftwareSaved.

14811288593_0e03f2c604_z.jpgBy Raniere Silva, Software Sustainability Institute.

The clock is ticking away, and if you haven’t registered for Collaborations Workshop 2018 (CW18) yet, this is your last chance!

If you’ve already signed up for the event, we have some suggestions for you to maximise your chances of building new collaborations during the workshop.

Lightning talks

At the beginning of the first and second days of CW18, we have scheduled some lightning talks. This is a great opportunity to invite fellow attendees to approach you to talk about a project you are considering or are already developing. If you wish, you can use one slide to assist you. To find out more, visit the submission page. We only have a limited number of slots, and they’re available on an first come, first served base.


We have some short walks around Cardiff planned as part of CW18. Attendees of previous years reported having a fun time during those walks and we recommend that you take part on it. All the walks are listed on the social programme page which includes the link for registrations.

Chargers, Cables and Dongles

For the…

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12176435415_61c14775c5_z.jpgBy Raniere Silva, Community Officer, Software Sustainability Institute.

With two weeks until the Collaborations Workshop 2018 (CW18) kicks off, we can't hold our excitement and need to tell you what’s waiting for you from Monday 26th to Wednesday 28th March 2018 at The School of Mathematics, Cardiff University.

At Collaborations Workshop 2018, you’ll find an amazing group composed of researchers, developers, innovators, managers, funders, publishers, leaders and educators. All of them play an important role in shaping the culture of our society and without them we would probably live in a very different world. Throughout the event, we will facilitate discussions about culture change, productivity, and sustainability within the this group.


As announced earlier on our website, we have Kirstie Whitaker and John Hammersley as keynotes on Monday 26 March. They will talk about the themes of this Collaborations Workshop: culture change and productivity. On the next day, we will have short talks from Adrian-Tudor Panescu, Daniel S. Katz, Naomi Penfold and Matthew Upson about software sustainability from different…

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We are very excited to announce that John Hammersley, CEO & co-founder of Overleaf, will give the keynote speech related to productivity at our Collaborations Workshop 2018 (CW18).

John Hammersley has always been fascinated by science, space, exploration and technology. After completing his PhD in Mathematical Physics at Durham University in 2008, he went on to help launch the world's first driverless taxi system now operating at London's Heathrow Airport. John is now making it easier for scientists to collaborate and publish online as CEO and co-founder of Overleaf, the rapidly growing online collaborative writing and reviewing tool now with over two million users worldwide. He was named as one of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars of 2015, is a mentor and alumni of the Bethnal Green Ventures startup accelerator in London, and in his spare time (when not looking after two toddlers) he dances West Coast Swing!

At CW18, John will talk about productivity. If you ever collaborated with someone to write a paper in LaTeX exchanging files over email or Google Drive/DropBox/Nextcloud you know how unproductive it can be because a package is missing on your system, a command is already defined, a file can not be found or any other annoying error. Overleaf has helped LaTeX users from beginners to experts…

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CW18pic_0.pngBy Raniere Silva, Community Officer.

Mini-workshops & demos are a unique opportunity that Collaborations Workshop attendees have to share a particular software product, approach, standard, etc. The deadline for proposals is 28th February at 23:59.

This year, we already have four mini-workshops & demos for Collaborations Workshop 2018: "Making research software easily citable with the Citation File Format" with Stephan Druskat, "Code is Science—open source scientific code manifesto" with Yo Yehudi, "Python testing with pytest" with Matt Williams, and a session related to Overleaf, one of our Platinum Sponsors, with John Lees-Miller and Villy Ioannou. More information about these sessions is available at the mini-workshops & demos page.

There is still time to join this incredible group of facilitators and share something from your researcher utility belt or discuss approaches to boost culture change or productivity. For those that need a bit of inspiration, proposals on the lines of "Using GitLab to project manage home renovation priorities" or "100% Emacs: How To Do Everything In Emacs" will be considered…

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cw186.pngBy Raniere Silva, Community Officer.

Two activities that form part of  all our Collaborations Workshop are the discussion session and collaborative ideas session. They may not be self-explanatory, but we assure you they are a great opportunity for attendees to interact and exchange ideas.

For Collaborations Workshop first-timers, including our fellows, the discussion session and collaborative ideas session may be completely new. So in this blog we will explain these two sessions and provide some tips on how to make the best of them.

Discussion session

Based on the information that attendees provide during registration, we create a list of topics that they might find interesting to discuss. For example, during CW17 we had "Best practices in Open Data and IoT data; tools & frameworks, analysis patterns and data management", "Improving diversity in research software projects and events", "How to give a kind and balanced software review" and many others. Topics can also be suggested by participants on the day—last year suggestions included "Research, Research IT, and IT: cultural bridging. Or, 'how to stop the IT department slowing down my science'".

At the very beginning of the discussion session, attendees vote for the topic they want to discuss and groups start to form. Once the groups are formed, we assign them…

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CW18pic.pngBy Raniere Silva, Community Officer.

The mini-workshops & demos are key activities in all our Collaborations Workshops. Each session lasts 30 minutes, in which attendees share a particular software product, approach, standard, etc.

Some mini-workshops & demos are very hands-on and at the end of Collaborations Workshop learners are confident to use the software, approach or standard on their daily work. Others  present something earlier in the day, and the audience engages in a constructive discussion with the presenters which sometimes leads to some ideas for the hackday on the third day of the Collaborations Workshop.

Highlights from the Collaborations Workshop 2016 mini-workshops & demos were Robin Wilson's hands-on introduction to recipy, Oliver Laslett's hands-on validation of Jupyter notebooks with nbval and Clemence Tanzi's, from qLegal, discussion about public domain licensing and liability.

The highlights of 2017 edition were Neil Chue Hong's demonstration of the Software Assessment Framework, Edward Smith's hands-on session covering…

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