Regular Institute collaborator Dr. Jeffrey Carver of the University of Alabama is conducting a couple of studies relating to the way that people develop research software. These will help provide the community with a better understanding of how different practices, including code review and software metrics are being used in the development of research software.

If you'd like to provide input into these studies, please participate in the following web surveys (each of which will take approximately 15 minutes to complete): 

Code review survey (in conjunction with Nasir Eisty of the University of Alabama) :

Software metrics survey (in conjunction with Dr. George Thiruvathukal from Loyola University-Chicago):


Your participation is completely anonymous and voluntary.  You are free not to participate or stop participating any time before you submit your answers. Both research studies have been approved by the University of Alabama Institutional Review Board.

As part of our on-going effort to collect information about RSEs in different countries, the SSI and de-RSE have created a specific version of the UK RSE survey for Germany (more information can be found here). 

Participants are needed for this survey on research software and people writing scientific software for Germany. If you are coding in and for academia in Germany then complete the survey and help us spread the word. You can also access a german version of the survey.

As of now there is not much knowledge about the community of those in research and science who develop software. This survey aims to gain valuable insights into this community in order to support research funders and other institutions to develop strategies and funding programs as well as policies.

Last and this years’ UK surveys [1, 2] allowed to gain valuable insights. To continue our success with this campaign, we need to track how the community evolves at other places. Simultaneously, similar surveys will be conducted in Canada, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, the USA and South Africa. For reasons of comparability, this survey was closely coordinated with the others.

This survey gives German researchers and scientists the opportunity for their point of view and experiences to be heard and thus be part of the development of this community. It would be also very helpful if you could spread the word to others who develop…

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pandas_in_space copy.jpgBy Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director.

This is a story about reproducibility. It’s about the first study I conducted at the Institute, the difficulties I’ve faced in reproducing analysis that was originally conducted in Excel, and it’s testament to the power of a tweet that’s haunted me for three years.

The good news is that the results from my original analysis still stand, although I found a mistake in a subdivision of a question when conducting the new analysis. This miscalculation was caused by a missing “a” in a sheet containing 3763 cells. This is as good a reason as any for moving to a more reproducible platform.

2014: a survey odyssey

Back In 2014, I surveyed a group of UK universities to see how their researchers used software. We believed that an inexorable link existed between software and research, but we had yet to prove it. I designed the study, but I never intended to perform the analysis. This was a job better suited to someone who could write code, and I could not. Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan and I found myself in the disquieting situation of having an imminent deadline and no one available to do the coding. Under these circumstances, few people have the fortitude to take some time out to learn how to…

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You are invited to participate in a survey on software licensing designed to investigate how well software developers understand common open-source software licences. Prof. Gail Murphy and graduate student Daniel Almeida are looking for software developers that have built, or are currently building on, open-source software in their projects - and we are particularly interested in hearing from people building open-source software for research.

Participating in the anonymous online survey will take approximately 30 minutes. If you are interested in participating, please visit the survey.

If you have any questions, please contact

By Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director.

No one knows how much software is used in research. Look around any lab and you’ll see software – both standard and bespoke – being used by all disciplines and seniorities of researchers. Software is clearly fundamental to research, but we can’t prove this without evidence. And this lack of evidence is the reason why we ran a survey of researchers at 15 Russell Group universities to find out about their software use and background.

Headline figures

  • 92% of academics use research software
  • 69% say that their research would not be practical without it
  • 56% develop their own software (worryingly, 21% of those have no training in software development
  • 70% of male researchers develop their own software, and only 30% of female researchers do so

Data and citation

The data collected during this survey is available for download from Zenodo. Please cite "S.J. Hettrick et al, UK Research Software Survey 2014"​​, DOI:10.5281/zenodo.14809. It is licensed under a Creative Commons by Attribution licence (attribution to The University of Edinburgh on behalf of the Software Sustainability Institute).

Software is far more important to research than anyone knows

If we do not know how much we rely on software, we cannot…

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To secure funding for the next generation of computational research provision, EPSRC is assembling evidence to present a persuasive case for continued support. This will include capital and associated resource funding to provide the tools that the computational research community will need to carry out world leading research.

A key component of this process is to develop a science case across EPSRC’s remit which:

  • demonstrates current focus of computational research
  • highlights successes
  • identifies the future cutting edge science questions that will be a focus for the community in the years ahead

To enable this science case to be built EPSRC has developed a survey and are now asking for community opinions. We hope that you will take the time to complete this important survey and have your voice heard.

EPSRC are keen to receive responses from the broadest possible range of computational researchers and all responses will be considered to form a vital evidence base.

Visit our blog for debate, shared thinking and new perspectives on issues affecting the engineering and physical sciences community.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) - Investing in research for discovery and innovation.

By Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director and Policy Lead.

This is the third in a series of blog posts taking you behind the scenes at the Institute. Today, we here about the recent activities of the Policy team.

Thus far in 2015, the efforts of the policy team have mainly been focused on providing data and support for the Institute’s funding bid for a second phase. With this out of the way, July has seen the policy team re-focusing on research. We’ve also had time to catch up with our Research Software Engineer campaign and added a new member of staff.

Surveying further

In October 2014, we ran a nationwide survey to determine researchers’ views on software. We were keen to quickly analyse and publish these results and get the preliminary message out. Due to staff availability, we ended up conducting this first pass analysis in Excel. Although we published our analysis, Excel is not the best package for transparency, which is why we rightly received opprobrium from open-data advocates. But we reasoned that our approach would be acceptable as long as we repeated and extended the work in a more transparent manner in the future.

Our new starter this July, Olivier Philippe, arrived with some serious R skills and was immediately tasked with making the survey analysis…

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Citizens' contributions to scientific processes, i.e. Citizen Science initiatives, are blossoming all over geographic scales and disciplines. A Citizen Science and Smart City Summit, organised by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in 2014, identified the management of citizen-collected data as a major barrier to the re-usability and integration of these contributions across borders. The JRC is now following up on these findings with a survey designed to capture the state of play with regard to data management practices on the local, national and continental scales.

Anyone involved in Citizen Science projects are being asked to take the survey to provide the JRC with invaluable information and insight into Citizen Science projects and best practice.​

With this activity, we want to help improve the understanding of current data-management practices, and use this as a basis for discussion with Citizen Science communities around the globe. Beyond the aims of pure stocktaking and awareness raising, this survey should also establish a baseline for prioritising subsequent actions and for measuring progress.

After discussions with members of the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) and the international Citizen Science Association (CSA), it was decided to open the scope of the survey to the international community, so that non-EU and globally acting organisations could also benefit from the results.

The survey will be open until…

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