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Collaborations Workshop 2021 (CW21)

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Collaborations Workshop 2021 (CW21)

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Location:  Online

30 March 2021

Collaborations Workshop 2021 (CW21)

The Software Sustainability Institute’s Collaborations Workshop series brings together researchers, developers, innovators, managers, funders, publishers, policy makers, leaders and educators to explore best practices and the future of research software. Collaborations Workshop 2021 (CW21) took place online from Tuesday, 30 March to Thursday, 1 April 2021.

Venue and Accessibility

CW21 will take place online using Zoom. You will need to install their client, and make sure that it is updated to the latest version. 

A CW21 Slack workspace is available for participants to connect, engage in discussion, ask questions, and forge new collaborations. These conversations can persist long after the Zoom room has closed. The invitation link will be emailed to participants via the email they registered with. 

We will be using Google Documents for collaborative note-taking and keeping everyone synchronised during CW21. The links to these documents will be shared with participants on the day.

Live transcription and captioning will be provided using

We recommend joining with a good quality headset with microphone, plenty of screen space (either using a large monitor or second screen), a normally reliable WiFi signal or wired connection, and a quiet room where you are less likely to be disturbed (but we understand this might be difficult given the current circumstances).


Registration for the complete CW21 programme via Eventbrite is now closed. Tickets provide access to all keynote presentations, interactive sessions, communication channels, social activities and the Hack Day. To make this event fair and inclusive to everyone, you will need to read, agree to and abide by our Participation Guidelines.

We are pleased to announce that this year the CW21 keynote presentations and panel will also be broadcasted live via the Institute’s YouTube channel for everyone who is unable to participate in the full programme. The live streams will remain available to watch until the official recordings are released.

You can watch the keynote sessions live here

You can watch the panel session live here


CW21 brought together a diverse group of people, creating a dynamic space for various activities. Here are some highlights from the event:

For a comprehensive overview, explore the complete agenda.

CW 21 Themes

Why FAIR Research Software? 

The FAIR Guiding Principles - Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability - for scientific data management and stewardship aim to maximise the discoverability and reusability of research data, leading to increased transparency and reproducibility of research results. At a high level, the principles are meant to apply to all scholarly digital research objects, including algorithms, tools, and workflows, but there is ongoing discussion about how they can be applied to research software in a practical and useful way. Certain characteristics of software, such as the executability, composite nature, and continuous evolution accompanied by frequent versioning, make it necessary to translate and extend the original principles. The RDA FAIR For Research Software Working Group (FAIR4RS WG) is coordinating a range of existing community-led discussions on how to define and effectively apply FAIR principles to research software in order to achieve adoption of these principles and continue to advance the aims of the open science movement. What challenges do we face when applying the FAIR Guiding Principles to our digital research objects? Which of the principles directly apply to research software and which do not? Where are modifications needed? In what ways can the original principles be extended to account for the ways in which software differs from data and other digital research objects? Get an update on how FAIR is being applied to software, the overlap with reproducible research and Open Science and contribute to discussions to move this area forward.

Why Diversity and Inclusion? 

The Software Sustainability Institute has been surveying the research software engineering (RSE) community in order to understand the diversity challenges facing RSEs by obtaining a better understanding of the landscape as a whole. Of those surveyed in 2018, only 5% of UK RSEs identified as ethnic minorities, 6% as disabled, and 14% as women. These represent serious diversity gaps when compared to the 21% of UK software developers who identify as ethnic minorities and 10% as disabled. The same gender gap of 14% exists for UK software developers, however 46% of UK academics identify as women. Diversity and Inclusion is inherently about justice and equity, and it brings different perspectives, ideas and experiences to a community that can lead to higher quality research and improved business performance. What actions can we take to address the underrepresentation, differential needs and systemic disadvantages that exist within the research software community? How can we build inclusion and equity into our projects and teams to attract and retain diverse talent, and ensure accessibility and participation of diverse perspectives in our research/work? Get informed and take part in related discussions at CW21: Better Diversity, Better Software, Better Research!

Why Software Sustainability?

Software is fundamental to research: 7 out of 10 researchers report their work would be impossible without it. From short, thrown-together temporary scripts to solve a specific problem, through an abundance of complex spreadsheets analysing collected data, to the hundreds of software engineers and millions of lines of code behind international efforts such as the Large Hadron Collider and the Square Kilometre Array, there are few areas of research where software does not have a fundamental role. As more research is based on results that are generated by software, there must be an increased focus on developing software that is reliable and which can be easily proven to produce reproducible results. Sustainability means that the software you use today will be available - and continue to be improved and supported - in the future. Which best practices for ensuring accessibility and reproducibility of research software have yet to be largely adopted? How can we onboard new collaborators with diverse perspectives to help improve, maintain and sustain software over its lifetime? Are there any invisible roles or career paths we should work to professionalise (similar to the history of RSE)? Discuss and take part in collaborative speed blogging on these and other Software Sustainability topics at CW21!

More about Collaborations Workshop 2021

The Software Sustainability Institute invites all members of the research software community to explore and discuss the themes described above and other related issues at CW21.

CW21 participants will gain insight into the topics of FAIR Research Software, Diversity and Inclusion, and Software Sustainability and how these impact on research. It is also an ideal opportunity to form collaborations (on average, CW participants start two new collaborations by attending) and to discuss topics proposed by attendees. CW21 is a great place to network and participants will meet many of the new and existing Software Sustainability Institute Fellows – key ambassadors in varied research domains.

Take a look at the Highlights from Collaborations Workshop 2020 and the videos on better and sustainable research software to better understand what happens at a Collaborations Workshop. Also please read the various blog posts from previous Collaborations Workshops to better understand why you should attend and what you will gain.

Financial Aid

The Software Sustainability Institute is committed to fostering and supporting a diverse, equitable and inclusive research software community. We are proud to offer financial assistance to members of underrepresented groups, students/early career stages, and others who may not be able to attend or fully participate in the event otherwise. Please click here to find out more information and to apply for financial assistance to support your participation in CW21.


The Collaborations Workshop is organised by the Software Sustainability Institute's CW18 organisation and events teams with the help of the steering committee and generous support from our partner organisations and sponsors

Code of Conduct

By registering for CW21, you agree to abide by our Participation Guidelines, which include policies related to Code of Conduct, Privacy, Social Media and Intellectual Property. 

Additional information

Previous events in the series.


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