Niels Drost

1_LmBD9OaRAJPnBYBoZwyZMw.jpgBy the Netherlands eScience Center

This post was originally published at the NL eScience centre blog.

Research software has become an indispensable instrument for virtually every academic researcher. A case in point: survey data from the UK revealed that 92% of academics use research software, 69% say that their research would not be practical without it and 56% develop their own software. Creating, storing and analyzing data is crucial in researchers’ daily work and enables them to address increasingly challenging research questions.

This rapid digitization of research has strongly increased the number of people writing and contributing to research software. This is part of a more general trend, where positions like data stewardsinformation managers, research data officer, research supporter and other non-traditional research positions are becoming increasingly recognized as intrinsic positions in the academic research ecosystem. To increase the impact, recognition and visibility of research software in academia, we (ePlan and the Netherlands eScience Center) have taken the initiative to start and…

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Motivate Better Practice in Research SoftwareBy James Grant, University of Bath, Andrew Washbrook, University of Edinburgh, Louise Brown, University of Nottingham, Niels Drost, Netherlands eScience Center, and Andrew Bennett, European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts

What can be termed as "coding" is a subset of wider software engineering practices such as version control, continuous integration and good software design. Coding is prevalent in academia but practices that allow sustainable software to be produced are frequently overlooked.  Motivating the uptake of the approaches, methods and tools, and highlighting the benefit they deliver, by engaging with researchers who develop software is the first step in spreading best practice in our community.

In discussions with researchers, we find that the use of version control is often highlighted as the first methodology that they would like to introduce into their workflow. We would therefore like to 1) identify approaches that can promote the use of version control by reducing barriers from textbook to full integration and 2) highlight the wider benefits of the methods beyond traditional software development.

Software related courses at an undergraduate level tend to focus on code syntax and functionality with limited time spent covering software management practices.  By including the use of version control as part of these training programs we can avoid much…

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