Software and research: the Institute's Blog

Latest version published on 22 June, 2018.

image1_0.jpgBy Raniere Silva, Software Sustainability Institute

We know that seven out of ten UK researchers reported that their work would be impossible without software, but, sometimes when attending domain specific conferences, we still get surprised at the importance of software in research. On June 2018, I attended Measuring Behavior 2018 by invitation of our fellow Robyn Grant.

Measuring Behavior 2018 was a three-day conference hosted at the Manchester Metropolitan University and covered analysis methods for behavioral data, techniques for human factors studies, mazes and behavioral tests, sensors for measuring behavior, extracting behavior from audio-video streams and a few other related topics.

We could tell that behavioral researchers are relying more on software every year because the atrium had a dozen of stalls from companies, such as Noldus, and organisations, such as the National Centre of the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), offering software and hardware solutions to assist behavioral researchers when, for example, monitoring animals in a maze or tracking the eyes of certain subjects.


Many talks presented during the conference…

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Latest version published on 21 June, 2018.

27876201371_5844cba8b8_z.jpgBy Reka Solymosi, University of Manchester

After our Brexit Data Challenge Hackathon our paper got shortlisted to be presented at the 2018 GISRUK conference. While I was unable to attend, two members of the hackathon team, Heather Robinson and Sam Langton went to represent our group. This is a guest blog of sorts by them on their experience on presenting our paper and the event in general.

Heather Robinson

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the 2018 GISRUK conference at The University of Leicester. I was representing R Users at University of Manchester (RUM), an informal R user group which I co-organise. We had decided to…

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Latest version published on 13 June, 2018.


By Alexander Morley, DPhil in Neuroscience, University of Oxford, and Yo Yehudi, InterMine, University of Cambridge.

For the last five years, Mozilla has run a Global Sprint, a worldwide distributed event where people gather to work collaboratively on open projects. The sprint is fantastic opportunity for open activists to help others, with demo calls that allow people to share their own projects, glean new contributors and amplify awareness of the issues they’re trying to address.

While you can participate from anywhere around the globe, there are also hosted sites where people can come together in person. 2018 fellows Alex Morley and Yo Yehudi both brought projects to this year's sprint, attending a physical site hosted in the Mozilla London offices on the 10th & 11th May 2018.

Code of Conduct Builder, Alex’s project, is a project that aims to help people build effective codes of conduct for their…

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Latest version published on 12 June, 2018.

28038447138_47c0a422f8_z.jpgBy Scott Henwood, Director of Research Software at CANARIE.

This post was first published in the CANARIE blog.

My previous blog posts have focused on the research software landscape in Canada, but the challenges and opportunities we face are not different from those in other parts of the world. In this post, I provide a brief overview of three international organisations that CANARIE works with as part of our Research Software program. These organisations are very different in their structure and approach to excellence in research software, but as you’ll see, they are all trying to solve common problems.

The UK Software Sustainability Institute (SSI)

Recognising that seven out of ten UK researchers say that their research would be impossible without software, the UK’s SSI was formed in 2010 to provide a national facility to enable the development and sustainability of better research software. The SSI has become an international leader in software for research and, along with their work on software sustainability (long-term availability, improvement and support), they also support initiatives in the following areas:

  • Skills and Training…
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Latest version published on 8 June, 2018.

Amsterdam.jpgBy Martin Donnelly, University of Edinburgh.

Late last month, I took a day trip to the Netherlands to attend an event at TU Delft entitled “Towards cultural change in data management – data stewardship in practice”. My Software Sustainability Institute Fellowship application “pitch” last year had been based around building bridges and sharing strategies and lessons between advocacy approaches for data and software management, and encouraging more holistic approaches to managing (and simply thinking about) research outputs in general. When I signed up for the event I expected it to focus exclusively on research data, but upon arrival at the venue (after a distressingly early start, and a power-walk from the train station along the canal) I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of the post-lunch breakout sessions was on the topic of software reproducibility, so I quickly signed up for that one.

I made it in to the main auditorium just in time to hear TU Delft’s Head of Research Data Services, Alastair Dunning, welcome us to the event. Alastair is a well-known face in the UK, hailing originally from Scotland and having worked at Jisc prior to his move across the North Sea. He noted the difference between managed and Open research data, a distinction that translates to research software too, and noted the risk of geographic imbalance between countries which are able to leverage openness to their advantage while simultaneously coping…

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