Monthly updates

By Shoaib Sufi, Community Lead.

For some November and December is a time to wind down and slow down to meet the holiday seasons at a gentle pace … but not at the Institute! The community team with the help of the wider Institute, fellows and friends was busy putting together and finalising the building blocks that would enable a most productive 2016 for research software advocacy!

Read on to find out more more about Fellows 2016 and Collaborations Workshop 2016 (CW16) to see who we are supporting research software related activities in … you guessed it!... 2016! (and beyond).

In addition there are two reports from our Fellows around the rise of Python in HPC and software training.


Previously we got ahead of ourselves and reported on the amazing face-to-face selection day that took place for Fellows 2016, if you missed that during the last update you can read about what happened.

In December we announced our Fellows for 2016. We have 17 new Fellows working from a variety of different areas of research and career stages. You will be hearing more from them no doubt in 2016 via the blog and news items about their activities. If you would like to meet them and perhaps even build a collaboration with them, then most of them will be at the Collaborations Workshop 2016 (CW16)

Collaborations Workshop 2016 (CW16)


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By Aleksandra Pawlik, Training Lead.

The end of the year 2015 was full of training events building up towards the coming months. The Institute is working towards scaling up the number of Data and Software Carpentry events in the UK by growing the instructor pool. Also by working with the Steering Committees of both organisations we are making sure that research community in the UK can benefit from this training.

Software and Data Carpentry Virtual Instructor and Helper Retreat

The Institute hosted one of the sites for the Software and Data Carpentry Virtual Instructor and Helper Retreat on 14th November at the University of Manchester. Aleksandra Pawlik, the Institute’s Training Lead hosted the event which was attended by Anthony Harrison and Dave Jones who co-run the Software and Data Carpentry taster sessions at the British Science Festival in September 2016; and Andy Walker and Martin Callaghan (both University of Leeds) who have organised and taught at a number of workshops. Dave and Andy led a session on “Making friends with Python 3”. The retreat was also attended by MIreya Paredes, a PhD student at the University of Manchester who completed the Instructor Training on 23-24th November and was a helper at the first UK Software Carpentry Workshop for Women in Science and Engineering.

CoDiMa Software Carpentry workshop at Manchester

The CoDiMa project (Computational Discrete Mathematics), co-led by SSI Fellow Aleksander Konovalov, in collaboration with the Department of Mathematics at the University of…

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By Steve Crouch, Research Software Group lead

With Autumn just around the corner, September has seen some exciting activities within the Institute’s Research Software Group. We’re helping improve the testing of Grid accounting software used by the Large Hadron Collider, we’re assessing the sustainability of a web service that supports greater fitness, and we’ve had a record number of applications into the recently closed Open Call!

The Open Call

The sixth and latest round of the Institute’s Open Call closed at the end of September, and despite the usual slow summer months we received a total of 23 applications this time - a new record! We’re reviewing these applications now, and we’ll be letting applicants know the result of this review by the end of October.

So if you didn’t manage to get an application in this time, the good news is that another next round of the Open Call is planned to open in January 2016. We’ll keep you updated with details!

Integration testing Grid accounting software

We’re often asked how to improve the testing of software, and we’re working with the Research Infrastructure Group, based at Daresbury Laboratory and Rutherford…

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By Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director.

This month, we welcome a new team member, attend a meeting of European organisations with an interest in software sustainability and support a bid to further bolster the RSE community.

We are happy to welcome Olivier Philippe to the Southampton team. He will be based in Southampton team as our new Policy Officer. Olivier brings with him experience in research design, surveying and is skills in both R and Python. One of Olivier’s first tasks will be to work on improving the transparency of last year’s software survey by repeating the analysis in R using Knitr to track every operation. He will also begin work on a survey of Research Software Engineers which will provide a valuable insight that we need to support the community.

Software sustainability in Europe

An interesting development this month was the invitation of Neil and myself to a Knowledge Exchange workshop on software sustainability. Knowledge Exchange is a co-operative effort that supports the use and development of ICT infrastructure for higher education and research. Their desire to investigate software sustainability shows the increasing interest in our field outside of the UK and will provide an excellent opportunity to pass on…

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By Aleksandra Pawlik, Training Lead.

Training Taster sessions

In September the Institute delivered a series of Taster Sessions based on Software and Data Carpentry materials. We started with a set of Taster Sessions at the British Science Festival on 7th and 8th September. Two sessions covered data visualisation with Python and data management with SQL. Both sessions proved to be popular with the Festival participants. However, we were unfortunately interrupted by a fire alarm on the second day. Most importantly, this this training was a great opportunity to practice teaching techniques for two Software Carpentry volunteers: Anthony Harrison  and Dave Jones. Anthony has already completed Software Carpentry Instructor Training. Dave is planning to do so as soon as possible. 

The next Taster Session was held at the 5th Student Conference on Complexity Science, on 10th September. The session was organised by one of the Institute’s…

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By Shoaib Sufi, Community Lead

September was an active month. It’s funny as autumn enters in the UK, the academic world is in spring with new students, new projects and a re-invigoration after the traditional holiday period.

In this month's update read more about how Fellows 2016 is progressing, the rise of the Institute's Software Credit Workshop and other news from the Community.

However, before we start - the Community team is recruiting a Research Software Specialist. If you are keen to run events, support Fellows, build bridges to support research software and gain data about the community to analyse and publish, then this role is for you! Applications close 18 October 2015 - this post is also open to international applicants.

Fellows 2016

By the time you read this, the applications for Institute Fellows 2016 will have closed. There was a webinar earlier in the month explaining what we were looking for in Fellows and we had Fellows Natalie Stanford, Alys Brett and Sarah Mount in attendance explaining their reasons for applying and how they have benefitted from the programme.

If you did not apply this year and are considering…

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By Steve Crouch, Research Software Group Lead.

During August, the Institute’s Research Software Group has helped developers in the areas of reflectance imaging and field theory to improve the usability and sustainability of their research software. We’ve also heard back from a previous project, where our work continues to realise a significant impact. Our Open Call is still open until 30 September - If you are looking for help with your own research software, why not submit an application?

Packaging imaging software for end-users

One of our collaborations is with the RTI-VIPSprogramme, which serves to provide solutions that employ Reflectance Transformation Imaging techniques. We’ve started work to help to improve the sustainability of the software and automate its installation for its end users, which include the British Museum, the Oxford Bodleian Libraryand the…

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By Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director and Policy Lead.

August saw the foundation of a new group to support Research Software Engineers, the release of a paper that had many in the community up in arms, and progress towards a better understanding of who’s being employed in UK academia. We’re also looking for community editors for our blog!

Supporting the leaders of Research Software Engineers

We’re now seeing the rise of groups of Research Software Engineers across the UK. This is fantastic news both for our campaign and, more importantly, for UK research.

The creation of RSE groups brings with it a new problem: how do we share information so that everyone benefits from the success of other groups (and no one repeats the failures). The easiest way is to bring together the leaders of RSE groups for regular meetings, which we hope will foster an air of open communication. The first formal meeting of this group took place on 3 August at the University of Southampton.

The purpose of the Research Software Engineers Leaders (RSEL) is to help leaders of research software groups share information and resources. It’s not easy setting up a new type of group in academia, so there’s plenty of room to benefit from the experience of others. By sharing resources, such as training materials and job descriptions, we can reduce duplication of effort which saves time for other work. The RSEL will use its combined experience…

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By Shoaib Sufi, Community Lead

Traditionally August is the holiday season here in the UK, but many good things can start or progress in a quiet period; especially exciting was the opening of the application period for the Institute’s 2016 Fellowship programme. Read on to find out what else happened in August.

Fellows 2016

Applications opened in late August for the Fellows 2016 intake. Closing date is 1st of October at 11pm BST.

We are looking for candidates who use, develop or advocate for better software in the research process. Are you someone involved in research software? Perhaps you use it heavily, develop it for yourself and others, or just love advocating for it as part of better practice. If you are passionate about research software you should consider applying. It gives you a chance to network with like-minded people, have your plans assessed, and the ability to ask for help from the Institute and the wider Fellows network and their contacts.

Please take see the launch announcement and feel free to distribute information about this widely.

Cambridge Licensing workshop

This takes place at The Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge from 11am to 3pm on Monday 14 September, and places are still available. You will get a chance to hear about which licenses to use and ways to meet…

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By Aleksandra Pawlik, Training Lead.

This is the last in this month's blog posts taking you around the different activities of the Institute. Today, we feature the Training team.

The training team has been travelling all over the UK and Europe to engage with learners from many different disciplines. We also report on an upcoming visit to the British Science Festival, and interesting new developments with Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry.

Supporting ELIXIR UK in training for bioinformatics

The Institute carries on its activities successfully supporting ELIXIR UK in delivering training to life science researchers. We are helping coordinate the pilot project to introduce and develop Software and Data Carpentry training within ELIXIR UK and across other international ELIXIR Nodes.

After running two hackathons and workshops hosted by ELIXIR Finland and ELIXIR Netherlands Aleksandra Pawlik, the Institute’s Training Lead, co-ran a Data Carpentry workshop hosted by ELIXIR Slovenia. The workshop for 30 attendees was delivered at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana and the National Institute of Biology in Ljubljana. The other instructors were Aleksandra Nenadic (ELIXIR-UK Training Coordinator for Infrastructure Technology and University of Manchester) and Peter Juvan (Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, ELIXIR SI).…

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