Software and research: the Institute's Blog

Open sourceBy Alice Harpole, University of Southampton, Danny Wong, Royal College of Anaesthetists, and Eilis Hannon, University of Exeter, Software Sustainability fellows

There has been a collective push in recent years to make all empirical data open access, and this is often a requirement where it has been funded by taxpayers. One reason for this is to improve the overall quality of research and remove any barriers from replicating, reproducing or building on existing findings with the by-product of promoting a more collaborative style of working. In addition to making the data available, it is important to make it user-friendly by providing clear documentation of what exactly it is and how the data was generated, processed and analysed. There are a number of situations, where the key contribution from the research is not simply the underlying data but the software used to produce the findings or conclusions, for example, where a new methodology is proposed, or where the research is not based on any experimental data but instead on simulations. Openly sharing software is as critical here as sharing the raw data for experimental studies. What’s more, there are likely many projects where both the data and software are equally as important, and while there is an expectation to provide the data, this currently…

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DIHDBy Neil Geddes

You find yourself stranded on a beautiful desert island. Fortunately, the island is equipped with all the basics needed to sustain life: food, water, solar power, a computer and a reasonable network connection. Consummate professional that you are, you have brought the software packages you need to continue your life and research. What software would you choose and - go on - what luxury item would you take to make life easier?

Today we hear from Neil Geddes, Director of STFC Technology at the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

I can’t believe that I actually agreed to do this. Being asked to provide some desert island insights seemed like such as honour at first, but then the scientist’s sceptical paranoia sets in: exactly how am I getting the electricity? Does the computer come with an OS? Do a language and a compiler count as two? Do I need libraries? What sort of internet connection is it? Am I allowed to download stuff? Will my choices look weird, stupid or just ill-informed? Am I really being sent to a desert island?

Calm down: don’t over analyse; and get into the spirit. If I had to rush out of the office right now, I think that this would be surprisingly easy. I’d grab my web browser, pick up my python IDE and I’d be off. I guess that the browser is sort of cheating since I am assuming that it gives me access to essentially everything else I could think of,…

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Open access academiaBy Jon Hill, University of York, and Software Sustainability Institute Fellow.

A controversial title, but one I hope to explain! When running a couple of workshops later last year, I spoke at length on a number of aspects of open science. This included software sustainability, data and software licensing, collaboration and manuscript writing. I was inspired by this fantastic paper posted on ArXiv from Greg Wilson et al. I will caveat this text with the fact I am not a lawyer and none of the text below should be taken as legal advice.

After running these two workshops—“Tools for Constructing the Tree of Life” and “Good enough practice in Computational Geography”—and speaking to the attendees, I realised there is a disturbingly large gulf between those involved in the open science movement and the rest of academia. Many participants knew the words 'open access' and 'open source', but conflated the ideas and didn't link any licences to these terms. There was also a lot of confusion on what licences to use and which were appropriate, as well as the concept of copyright. Unfortunately, academics have to rely on the lawyers…

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FOSDEM 2017By Raniere Silva, Community Officer, Software Sustainability Institute.

In 2012, 2013 and 2014, I attended the International Free Software Forum (FISL), held in the south of Brazil, and I had a great time in all those editions. In each edition, someone told me that if I enjoy FISL I’d enjoy FOSDEM as well. This year I decided to attend FOSDEM and, despite the queues, I met with Mateusz Kuzak to discuss some community driven projects.

On FOSDEM's first day, after the welcome talk, we went to the HPC, Big Data and Data Science room and watched Michael Bauer's and César Gómez-Martín's talk about Singularity, another container-like technology, use on the HPC environment. If you want to learn more…

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Collaborations Workshop 2017, IoT, Open Data, research softwareJisc offering a travel bursary for a PhD student to attend CW17 - apply now!

By Shoaib Sufi, Community Lead, Software Sustainability Institute

The Collaborations Workshop 2017 (CW17) takes place on the 27–29th of March 2017 at the Leeds University Business School. This is  ‘The’ event for getting up to speed with the Internet of Things (IoT), Open Data and Software Sustainability.

Our Internet of Things (IoT) keynote is Usman Haque from Umbrellium, who has been there from the very early days of IoT and will inform us of current trends, thinking and use cases in the space.

Our Open Data keynote is Tom Forth from imactive, who has a vast amount of experience using Open Data to make cities truly smarter and other applications which he’ll share with us at CW17.

We are running two panels at CW17: one focused on IoT and Open Data and what these areas mean for Research, and another on Software Sustainability. We have excellent panelists lined up to answer your questions, inspire and inform—…

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