Whole_conf_photo.jpgThe Software Sustainability Institute invites everyone working on research software to fill in the 2018 RSE survey.

Previous RSE surveys have targeted specific countries. This year's RSE survey welcomes people from all over the world to participate. Please note the survey will close on 3rd December 2018.

The survey takes about 10-15 minutes to complete (ca. 80 questions). Please note that this research is not compulsory and even if you decide to participate you can withdraw at any moment.

The purpose of the survey is to collect information about people who develop software that is used in research. We call these people Research Software Engineers (RSEs), but they use many different job titles (including postdoctoral researcher and research assistant). This survey gives you the opportunity to share your point of view and experiences, and thus be part of the development of this community. It would be also very helpful if you could help spread the word to others who develop software in the research landscape or anyone who employs software experts in academia.

If you have any issues or questions, you can refer to the Github repository used to create this survey.  Alternatively, you can send an email to …

Continue Reading

38523074811_210bcc3ed4_z.jpgBy Mike Jackson, Software Architect, The Software Sustainability Institute

On the 7th March, Jisc and the Software Sustainability Institute ran a Software Deposit and Preservation Policy and Planning Workshop at Jisc’s Brettenham House in London. This was part of an activity, funded by Jisc, to provide software deposit and preservation guidance, in particular to develop use cases and workflows for software deposit via Jisc's Research Data Shared Service (RDSS). A draft report on the workshop is now available.

Read the draft report, available on Zenodo (doi:10.5281/zenodo.1250310).

We also invite feedback on the report. In particular we welcome additional sources of information and other resources relating to software deposit and preservation, corrections, clarifications and additional suggestions as to future work. If you'd like to provide feedback, then please add this to our copy of the report on Google Docs, noting your full name and affiliation…

Continue Reading

7337761518_57b80d725b_z.jpgBy Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director.

When I first started thinking about how we could create a career path for Research Software Engineers (RSEs) in academia, I assumed we would have to persuade university management to change their policies and make it possible, or at least much easier, for researchers to retain RSEs within their groups. The actual solution has been somewhat different, and much more effective.

Pioneers at a growing number of universities have seized the initiative and set up their own RSE group. These groups employ a number of RSEs and then hire them out to researchers at their home organisation. It’s a win-win for researchers: they gain access to the skills they need and—unlike hiring new personnel—they only pay when they need those skills. By servicing an entire university, RSE groups tap into enough demand to allow a number of RSEs to be consistently employed.

When RSE groups are first launched they tend to hire generalists, but as they grow they can hire more specialists, which makes skills available that researchers could only dream of accessing without such a group. As they grow, RSE groups need senior staff who can run larger projects and oversee the work of others, and this creates the RSE career path that has been so sorely needed.

Continue Reading

DOI

Since 2016, the Software Sustainability Institute conducts surveys of Research Software Engineers (RSEs) to learn more about them and their work conditions. The RSE community has grown from a concept born at an Institute event to an international phenomenon. It's important to learn more about this community so that our campaigning, and that of our international partners, continues to help RSEs gain the recognition they deserve for their huge contribution to research.

 

The 2018 survey is currently open for participants. If you wish to fill it, you can follow this link to the survey:

 

We began surveying RSEs in 2016, in 2017 we also surveyed Canadian RSEs and last year we added four further countries. Our thanks to our partners: Scott Henwood (Canada), Stephan Janosch and Martin Hammitzsch (Germany), Ben van Werkhoven and Tom Bakker (Netherlands), Anelda van der Walt (South Africa) and Daniel Katz and Sandra Gesing (USA).

Below you can find a link to individual reports and dataset for each country which participated to the survey.

Continue Reading

4982558043_06968b80f1_z.jpgBy Olivier Philippe, Policy Researcher.

DOI

Last year, the Software Sustainability Institute conducted a survey of Research Software Engineers (RSEs) to learn more about them and their work conditions. The RSE community has grown from a concept born at an Institute event to an international phenomenon. It's important to learn more about this community so that our campaigning, and that of our international partners, continues to help RSEs gain the recognition they deserve for their huge contribution to research.

We began surveying RSEs in 2016, in 2017 we also surveyed Canadian RSEs and last year we added four further countries. Our thanks to our partners: Scott Henwood (Canada), Stephan Janosch and Martin Hammitzsch (Germany), Ben van Werkhoven and Tom Bakker (Netherlands), Anelda van der Walt (South Africa) and Daniel S. Katz and Sandra Gesing (USA).

Visit our RSE survey page for an overview of the results and access to the data and analysis.

9190581261_7cefddac29_z.jpgBy Gillian Law.

New Research Software Engineer (RSE) fellow Leila Mureşan will be using her microscopy image analysis skills to develop software for biologists, physicists and mathematicians as part of her RSE fellowship.

As a scientific software engineer at the University of Cambridge’s Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre (CAIC) Mureşan designs and implements software to analyse imaging data. Computational microscopy uses software and computation to get around the limitations of optical systems, she says. Mureşan trained as a computer scientist in Romania, and went on to study the analysis of single molecule microscopy images with application to ultra-sensitive microarrays for her PhD at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria.  After doing post-doctoral research at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and the Centre de Génétique Moléculaire at CNRS in Gif-sur-Yvette France she joined CAIC as it launched in 2014.

Mureşan has developed a particular interest in lightsheet microscopy imaging, which allows developmental biology scientists to follow the development of an embryo in a “fast and gentle” way over several days, she says. This process naturally produces an enormous amount of data, which requires software that can handle the analysis. Mureşan also works on super resolution microscopy, which increases resolution by an order of magnitude.

“I…

Continue Reading

5148710483_a9c0c77da4_z.jpgBy Gillian Law.

Joanna Leng is a computational scientist and visualisation expert who will focus her Research Software Engineer (RSE) fellowship on bringing research computing to imaging. She believes that some areas of the imaging community are failing to fully pick up on the potential of computing, and Leng hopes to transform the use of technology in the field to accelerate scientific discovery.  

Leng will develop software on campus at the University of Leeds for three new imaging techniques, collaborating with Sven Schroeder for spectral X-ray imaging, Rik Drummond-Brydson for spectral electron microscopy imaging and Michelle Peckham for super-resolution light microscopy, in partnership with Diamond Light Source, SuperSTEM and the SCI Institute in Utah, USA.

With 20 years of experience in imaging, visualisation and High Performance Computing (HPC), Leng brings a broad network of contacts to her fellowship, having been interested in imaging and visualisation since her undergraduate degree in biophysics at the University of Leeds. After university, she retrained in computer science, looking for a better paid career, only to “realise at the last minute that I couldn’t face working for one of the banks!” That moment of clarity “brought her to her senses”, and she moved to work in visualisation at the University of Manchester at the Computer Graphics Unit that shortly…

Continue Reading

8897696003_c549d5e58e_z.jpgBy Gillian Law.

Physicist and new RSE fellow Phil Hasnip specialises in software to predict materials properties, and in making that software accessible to all researchers.

Hasnip believes that most physics problems end up being materials problems. “You want a better battery? You need a better battery material. A better turbine? You need a stronger material for the blades. Wherever you look, materials are key.” says Hasnip. Running experiments on these potential new materials is expensive and difficult, so using computational methods to either predict what a material might do, or to explain what is going in on experiments, is incredibly useful.

Having completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge followed by several post doc positions, Hasnip is now at the University of York where he is developing tools including the CASTEP program which uses quantum mechanics to compute the properties of materials and chemicals.

There is a constant tension in research between taking the time to improve the tools used and getting research results, Hasnip says, and he hopes to use his fellowship as an opportunity to focus on improving the tools available and making them more accessible to all researchers, rather than just those with computational skills. “Many of the tools being used aren’t really high enough quality. They’ve been developed by…

Continue Reading

8523276256_b32bcc2df2_z.jpgBy Gillian Law

Research software ought to be easier to use, says newly appointed 2018 RSE Fellow Jeremy Cohen.

A computer scientist by background, Cohen has spent the bulk of his career to date in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, supporting scientists in their research. “I’ve worked in a lot of domains, offering applied computing research to support scientists in various areas” he says. This has included using high-performance computing platforms and cloud-computing infrastructure.

“Of course, in general scientists tend to have some computing knowledge, but they often have very much a domain-focused view,” Cohen says. He aims to make their codes easier to access and use. Even if the scientist could do it themselves, they may end up doing it in a more complicated or inefficient way if they’re learning as they go along, “so I aim to make life simpler and let them focus on the science, not the computing.” Good code can also help scientists to make their modelling and simulation work more accessible to their broader team. “There’s often a lot of post processing needed on a model or simulation and so what I’m trying to do is bridge the gaps, or glue together different processes, and simplify complex things. Again, we’re working with people who are very experienced and they can do this work themselves, but we can help them to do it much more effectively.”…

Continue Reading

Regular Institute collaborator Dr. Jeffrey Carver of the University of Alabama is conducting a couple of studies relating to the way that people develop research software. These will help provide the community with a better understanding of how different practices, including code review and software metrics are being used in the development of research software.

If you'd like to provide input into these studies, please participate in the following web surveys (each of which will take approximately 15 minutes to complete): 

Code review survey (in conjunction with Nasir Eisty of the University of Alabama) : https://universityofalabama.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bBdeMr08ix8YbXL

Software metrics survey (in conjunction with Dr. George Thiruvathukal from Loyola University-Chicago): https://universityofalabama.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_darjzw2JlY3OXY1

 

Your participation is completely anonymous and voluntary.  You are free not to participate or stop participating any time before you submit your answers. Both research studies have been approved by the University of Alabama Institutional Review Board.