Software and research: the Institute's Blog

 

ICMStalksBy Raniere Silva, Software Sustainability Institute, Hans Fangohr, University of Southampton.

From the 16th to the 20th January, the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences  hosted the Computational Mathematics with Jupyter Workshop organised jointly by the OpenDreamKit and CoDiMa projects where GAP, Singular, SageMath, Jupyter users and developers met for experience sharing talks and coding hackathons.

The workshop kickstarted with Mike Croucher asking the provocative question "is your research software correct?" Mike covered the reproducibility crises that, in his own words, can be partially solved with:

  • Automation (aka learn to program)

  • Writing code in a (very) high-level language

  • Getting some training

  • Using version control

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By Raniere Silva, Community Officer.Laptop on the beach.

The first phase of Google Summer of Code 2017 launched on January 19th and by participating as an open source project or mentor you could help make this edition the best one so far. This is an opportunity to have that change to your IDE that you have dreamt of for months, remove the bottleneck in your data analysis pipeline or test a new idea by the end of August.

Google Summer of Code (GSoC) allows projects to download developers! We at the Institute think that it’s a great opportunity for those working with research software to be a part of the wider open source community either by mentoring students (who are paid by Google to work on open source projects during the summer) or by suggesting project ideas. The first phase of the programme is when mentoring organisations can apply to participate in GSoC: the deadline is February 9, 2017 17:00 (GMT). In this phase, mentoring organisations start to collect project ideas and identify mentors; in this post we will list some ways you can contribute to GSoC's.

I want to lead my project / organisation’s application

If you are part of an open source software project, or an organisation…

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DIHDYou find yourself stranded on a beautiful desert island. Fortunately, the island is equipped with the basics needed to sustain life: food, water, solar power, a computer and a 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 Liz Allen, Director of Strategic Initiatives, F1000, and Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Policy Institute at King’s College London.

I feared that I might be the most unqualified person to have been invited to contribute to this blog. Having read previous entries, I checked with Simon (Hettrick) at the Software Sustainability Institute to see whether he seriously wanted a contribution from me, and I received the encouraging reply “it's not really about the software, but about what the software says about you.” So assuming that the Institute isn’t seeking to dumb down its excellent work, and that at least one person wants to know what my choices of software say about me, here goes...

The first thing I would need is the ability to write. I would record my daily trials and tribulations and, while it might not be fashionable, would need…

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Founders of the de-RSE chapter
Founders of the de-RSE chapter

By Martin Hammitzsch, GFZ Potsdam, Stephan Janosch, MPI CBG & Frank Loeffler, Louisiana State University

The days following the first conference of Research Software Engineers (RSEs) saw the launch of a German RSE chapter de-RSE. It was formed by RSEs working inside and outside Germany, and it will further the shared objectives of RSEs and become the collective mouthpiece for RSEs within the German science.

All of the authors were exposed to the day-to-day problems caused by using software in science, and this meant that many of us were following the Software Sustainability Institute, and a few other activities around the globe. The lucky ones among us were even able to participate in events over the last few years to see how to improve our situation. Over the last few years a critical mass of motivated Research Software Engineers (RSEs) formed at various locations across Europe, North America and a few other countries. Then in September 2016, the world's first conference for RSEs took place in Manchester. It was the right time for this event. Bringing together RSEs lead to discussions about how to transfer the UKRSE spirit to other countries. How could other national science systems benefit from the professionalisation of software engineering in sciences? How can the people behind research software receive the the acknowledgement and resources they deserve?

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ResearchFishBy Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director.

Researchfish® allows researchers to record the impact of their research outside of the standard metric of how many papers I have written. These outcomes, as they are called, cover publications, but also collaborations, events, awards and other metrics including - and of most interest to me - software.

Researchfish® was established with the support of MRC and initially focused on collecting outcomes from medical research. It has since been adopted by a broad range of funders, including the UK’s seven Research Councils. I recently had an interesting talk with the EPSRC’s Louise Tillman about what these outcomes might say about research software in the UK and, thanks to her, a week later I found myself in possession of a spreadsheet containing the research outcomes related to software for EPSRC researchers.

Just having the outcomes is pretty exciting, but to make things more interesting, I decided that I would write the analysis code myself. I’m not a software developer, but it’s getting progressively more difficult to stay that way when I spend my life surrounded by Research Software Engineers. Hence this post not only reports an investigation into Researchfish…

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