Software and research: the Institute's Blog

Latest version published on 5 April, 2018.

253580496_491d04cc53_z.jpgBy R. Stuart Geiger, Alejandra Gonzalez-Beltran, Robert Haines, James Hetherington, Chris Holdgraf, Heiko Mueller, Martin O'Reilly, Tomas Petricek, Jake VanderPlas (authors in alphabetical order)

Data and software have enmeshed themselves in the academic world, and are a growing force in most academic disciplines (many of which are not traditionally seen as "data-intensive"). Many universities wish to improve their ability to create software tools, enable efficient data-intensive collaborations, and spread the use of "data science" methods in the academic community.

The fundamentally cross-disciplinary nature of such activities has led to a common model: the creation of institutes or organisations not bound to a particular department or discipline, focusing on the skills and tools that are common across the academic world. However, creating institutes with a cross-university mandate and non-standard academic practices is challenging. These organisations often do not fit into the "traditional" academic model of institutes or departments, and involve work that is not incentivised or rewarded under traditional academic metrics. To add to this challenge, the combination of quantitative and qualitative skills needed is also highly in-demand in non-academic sectors. This raises the question: how do you create such institutes so that they attract top-notch candidates, sustain themselves over time, and provide value both to members of the group as well as the broader university community?…

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Latest version published on 4 April, 2018.

4982558043_06968b80f1_z.jpgBy Mike Jackson, Software Architect

Early March saw us deliver our annual Software Carpentry workshop for the Regenerative Medicine Centre for Doctoral Training at The University of Manchester. I was joined by co-instructors Peter Smyth and David Mawdsley and helpers Nicolas Gruel and Nilani Ganeshwaran from The University of Manchester. Our course was run within the impressive redbrick edifice that is the Sackvile Street Building.

We gave the attendees an introduction to the bash shell, good programming practice using Python, and version control with Git. We started with 20 attendees and ended with 16, which is one of the lower rates of attrition I've seen.

There were the inevitable setup problems arising from attendees having Linux, Windows and Mac OS, and different flavours of Python. This meant that for some attendees, as one commented, "my Anaconda software and what was on the projector was different" and that the course was "sometimes hard to follow."

Of the concepts covered, loops seemed to be the most challenging, for both bash shell and Python, attendees questioning why they are used and in what circumstances. One attendee commented that "Some of the coding vocab is a bit lost on me!" which coincidentaly relates to a recent thread on the Software Carpentry…

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Latest version published on 22 March, 2018.

38523074811_210bcc3ed4_z.jpgBy Christopher Brown, Senior co-design manager, Jisc, Neil Chue Hong, Director, The Software Sustainability Institute, and 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 is 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).

Our 17 attendees were members of Jisc's RDSS pilot institutions, research data managers and research software engineers—all sharing an interest in the archiving and preservation of research software.

Chris gave an introduction to the RDSS and Neil introduced the Institute's activity on software deposit. Mike presented workflows for software deposit, derived from current implementations including the Figshare-GitHub integration, the…

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Latest version published on 21 March, 2018.

PYcon1.pngBy Nikoleta Glynatsi, Cardiff University, Geraint Palmer, Cardiff University, with introduction from Raniere Silva, Software Sustainability Institute.

The Software Sustainability Institute is very proud of the involvement of our Fellows Vincent Knight (2016), Nikoleta Glynatsi (2017) and Geraint Palmer (2018) with Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project and their contribution with PyCon Namibia. Introduce a new programming language to a research community is a lot of work and involve many cultural change barriers. To know more about their experience in Namibia, attend Collaborations Workshop 2018. For now, Nikoleta and Geraint have a sneak peak for you of their experience this year in Africa first published at Nikoleta’s blog.

This is a joint blog post with Geraint Palmer about our experiences of PyCon Namibia (PyConNA) 2018, which was the 4th consecutive Python conference held in the country. The conference took place in Windhoek, from the 20th to the 22nd of February. Supported by Cardiff University’s Phoenix…

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Latest version published on 15 March, 2018.

14811288593_0e03f2c604_z.jpgBy Raniere Silva, Software Sustainability Institute.

The clock is ticking away, and if you haven’t registered for Collaborations Workshop 2018 (CW18) yet, this is your last chance!

If you’ve already signed up for the event, we have some suggestions for you to maximise your chances of building new collaborations during the workshop.

Lightning talks

At the beginning of the first and second days of CW18, we have scheduled some lightning talks. This is a great opportunity to invite fellow attendees to approach you to talk about a project you are considering or are already developing. If you wish, you can use one slide to assist you. To find out more, visit the submission page. We only have a limited number of slots, and they’re available on an first come, first served base.

Social

We have some short walks around Cardiff planned as part of CW18. Attendees of previous years reported having a fun time during those walks and we recommend that you take part on it. All the walks are listed on the social programme page which includes the link for registrations.

Chargers, Cables and Dongles

For the…

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