Software is of fundamental importance to most research, but many of the next generation of researchers will lack the skills they need to exploit it. A good understanding of software, and the confidence to develop it, allows researchers to get more work done in less time, and produce results that are both reliable and reproducible. The Software Sustainability Institute is an EPSRC-approved supplier of training for the Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT).
Since 2012, over 1000 students have benefited from the training we deliver together with Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry - initiatives that have been developed for researchers from all disciplines. The Software Carpentry training covers a series of practical software engineering techniques and practices that provide the skills needed to harness the power of software and develop robust and maintainable code. The Data Carpentry training focuses on effective data management, analysis and sharing to support reproducible research.
Why Software and Data Carpentry?
The Software Carpentry initiative was founded in 1998, and is run by Software Carpentry Foundation. It has the backing of many leading figures in the scientific software community, and over 6000 students worldwide have benefited from the training. In 2012, we were made the UK coordinators for Software Carpentry. This has allowed us to identify the common needs of UK researchers and tailor our training to meet those needs.
Data Carpentry launched in 2014 and immediately proved to be extremely popular. The main idea is to develop curriculum tailored for particular needs of different disciplines in which researchers have to deal with large amounts of data.
How will our training improve your CDT?
The EPSRC has recognised the fundamental importance of software in research, and the necessity of good software development practices in producing accurate, reusable and reproducible research. The EPSRC invitation for outlines (page 15) for the CDT call states:
It is therefore a certainty that many of the students being trained through the Centres will be using computational techniques in their projects, and some may have projects aimed specifically at software development. It is essential that they are given appropriate training so that they can confidently use, extend and develop software in a way that supports correct, reproducible and reusable research
Our training courses make it easy to meet the EPSRC’s software-development requirements without investing your own resources into creating new training, and without duplicating existing training materials and courses.
Students taking part in a Software Carpentry workshop at Newcastle University.
The course is completely hands-on. Our instructors will lead your students through a series of lessons which the students then replicate on their own computers. This approach ensures that the students gain a good understanding of the techniques, and can later adapt them for their own research.
What training support do we offer?
We coordinate and organize training courses which allow doctoral students improve their computational skills. We offer help in analysing training needs and then identifying the right kind of training. There are different types of training which may suit CDTs, ranging from a standard Software or Data Carpentry workshop, to long-term courses which incorporate elements of the curriculum of these two initiatives.
A typical Software Carpentry training course will take place over two days and will include lessons on task automation using command line, revision control, testing and scripting, with a focus on languages - like Python - that are popular with researchers. The course is completely hands-on. The instructors will lead your students through a series of lessons which the students then replicate on their own computers. This approach ensures that the students gain a good understanding of the techniques, and can later adapt them for their own research.
If you have any questions, would like further information, or discuss how we could help you develop and deliver training for your organisation, please contact Aleksandra Pawlik (the Institute's Training Leader).
Who are we?
The Software Sustainability Institute was founded by the EPSRC as a national facility for cultivating world-class research through software. The Institute is based at the universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Oxford and Southampton.