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Software Sustainability Institute www.software.ac.uk “Doing Science Properly in the Digital Age” UK e-Infrastructure Academic User Community Forum 12 September.

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Presentation on theme: "Software Sustainability Institute www.software.ac.uk “Doing Science Properly in the Digital Age” UK e-Infrastructure Academic User Community Forum 12 September."— Presentation transcript:

1 Software Sustainability Institute “Doing Science Properly in the Digital Age” UK e-Infrastructure Academic User Community Forum 12 September 2012, Digital Research 2012, Oxford Neil Chue Hong

2 Software Sustainability Institute The Software Sustainability Institute A national facility for cultivating world- class research through software Better software enables better research Software reaches boundaries in its development cycle that prevent improvement, growth and adoption Providing the expertise and services needed to negotiate to the next stage Developing the policy and tools to support the community developing and using research software Supported by EPSRC Grant EP/H043160/1

3 Software Sustainability Institute People UK Research Computing Ecosystem Computing Communities … Communities … Network/Collaboration Instruments Software Data Centres

4 Software Sustainability Institute Observation 1: Software is pervasive across research Corollary: software is bleeding edge and long-tail Demanding users are coming from arts + humanities, economics, and social science as well as sciences Observation 1: Software is pervasive across research Corollary: software is bleeding edge and long-tail Demanding users are coming from arts + humanities, economics, and social science as well as sciences

5 Software Sustainability Institute Observation 2: A culture of re-use rather than re- invention is not widespread Corollary: we have wasted effort and increased siloing Observation 2: A culture of re-use rather than re- invention is not widespread Corollary: we have wasted effort and increased siloing

6 Software Sustainability Institute Observation 3: Many people are “embarrassed” about software Corollary: something is broken in the way we regard, recognise and reward software Observation 3: Many people are “embarrassed” about software Corollary: something is broken in the way we regard, recognise and reward software

7 Software Sustainability Institute Observations Software now has a longer lifetime of effectiveness than hardware  And people’s knowledge is even longer The right software makes the hardware exploitable by more researchers  Allows computing to be treated as a commodity asset Demanding users of computational infrastructure are coming from arts + humanities / social science  Software frameworks must support all types of app A culture of reuse rather than reinvention is not widespread  Originality is good but must be balanced by consolidation The best research is trans-national: our infrastructure must support this

8 Software Sustainability Institute SSI Drivers and Themes Two key drivers which cause people to seek the SSI’s advice:  They want to be more productive in their research  They don’t want to be embarrassed by appearing worse than their peers Broadly, our work falls into a few key themes:  The role and reward of software in research  Recognition of software career paths  Developing the scientific computing / software development skill base

9 Software Sustainability Institute The Foundations of Digital Research Re- search Careers Recognition / Reward Skills and Capability Software Re-usable Re-producible

10 Software Sustainability Institute The modern researcher… … worries about:  Data management and analysis  Reproducible research  Scalable simulations  Integration of models and workflows  Collaboration

11 Software Sustainability Institute Gap 1: Software Skills Training BasicAdvanced Programming Focussed (Tools) Research Focussed (methods) Software Carpentry Software Carpentry Programming 101 Summer Schools Summer Schools Advanced HPC Training HPC Short Courses Doctoral Training MSc in HPC / scientific computing Programming 201 Who fills this gap?

12 Software Sustainability Institute Software philosophy as part of the process Foundations of scientific computing in undergraduate courses  Like presentation skills Methods of scientific computing in postgraduate courses  Like statistics and ethics Show the benefits from the knowledge and methods of digital research  Not just programming 101

13 Software Sustainability Institute Gap 2: Lack of support infrastructure For example: no digital repository which satisfies the criteria:  Open to anyone in the UK to archive software  Software associated with an OSI license  Provide a unique, permanent identifier  Publishes a preservation/curation/sustainability plan This is just deposit, not even preservation or sustainability

14 Software Sustainability Institute Gap 3: Lack of recognition and reward Is there an anachronism in the way we conduct and recognise research?  REF references software as an output but it is still not easy to get recognition Software careers  Researchers who use software  Researcher-Developers  Research Software Engineers  Research Software Support  Research Systems Providers

15 Software Sustainability Institute Gap 4: Software Maturity and Management Software proliferation Time Customisation InnovationConsolidation Not all software should make it to the next stage Management changes through time, requiring planning

16 Software Sustainability Institute A More Manageable Ecosystem Discourage duplicative software development in research grants by rewarding reuse and long-term development  Need to change perceptions so that software is seen as valuable  But understand when it should not proceed to next stage Different stages should be managed and funded separately  Maintenance vs. research vs. development A skilled researcher base is the key in the digital age  Create a larger proportion of enabled researchers and provide the ramps to go from desktop to high-end infrastructure  Allow and encourage specialism and collaboration

17 Software Sustainability Institute Road ahead Long term funding, but not necessarily longer term milestones  Projects and groups must have a roadmap to build against and we must retain competition and excellence without losing skills Encourage software to be more collaborative and recognise the need to support its users for the long-term  Too much falling by the wayside for lack of decent ongoing support: opportunity for new orgs to enter community? Specific funding for developing and maintaining infrastructure  Particularly innovative software development which aims for further along the infrastructure roadmap Recognise the distinction between encouraging the “emergent” communities and translating successes into the “mainstream” of research: requirements are not the same


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