July 2021 Newsletter

7 July 2021 17:00

University of Sheffield Research Software Engineering Team Newsletter July 2021

Firstly, welcome to the >100 new members of the RSE mailing list this month. This is the monthly newsletter from the Research Software Engineering Team at The University of Sheffield.

We aim to share our experiences and information of other communities for those using software for research. This newsletter collects interesting events and opportunities over the coming month. It also signposts to other resources that we find beneficial or interesting. You may find the content interesting if you are someone in research using software, are a person paid to develop software (like a Research Software Engineer (RSE)), or are somewhere in-between (a research developer).

To receive this newsletter as an email each month, please sign up to our Google Group. Tell your friends!

To suggest content for a future newsletter either complete this short form or drop us an email. We can’t promise that we’ll publish everything that’s proposed but we are keen to feature submissions from the research community at the University of Sheffield.

All times are BST (UTC+01)


BBSRC Review of Technology Development in the Biosciences

As part of UKRI-BBSRC’s review of support for technology development for the biosciences, we are launching a community survey in order to begin collating views and to provide an early-stage opportunity for input from across the bioscience/technology development community.

Submit your contributions to the survey here


The Conference of Research Software Engineers is returning this year with a fully online event.

6 - 30th September 2021

On Monday 6th September 2021, the RSE Community will reunite for SeptembRSE, the Fifth Conference of Research Software Engineers. The conference is a chance for anyone, whether you consider yourself a Research Software Engineer or not, to meet and discuss the development and recognition of research software.

This year the entire conference has moved online. The flexibility achievable with online events allows the sessions to be spread out so that they occupy the whole of September. All sessions will be streamed, recorded and published, meaning that you will have a whole month of material to explore throughout September at a time that is best for you!

Research Software Camp “Beyond the spreadsheet”: call for ideas

Do you use spreadsheets to conduct your research? Do you prefer a specific tool or approach when using spreadsheets? What events would you run to help other researchers using spreadsheets? Are you interested in sharing your experience or stories of research data management and analysis with spreadsheets? We’d like to hear from you!

We have a few ideas for running our live sessions and commissioning content for the Camp, but we’re asking our community about what would be useful to hear/read about and learn from around the use of spreadsheets in research, what works, and taking the first steps into other computation techniques.

Submit ideas by the end of July

FAIR Principles for Research Software

The Research Data Alliance has developed a set of principles for research software inspired by the FAIR principles for research data (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable).

The community review period for the guiding document is open until the 11th July here

AHRC Software Requirements Survey

The SSI, with the help of others in the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) community has put together a survey of digital / software requirements for the AHRC. Complete if it’s relevant to your work, e.g. you are in the AHRC funding remit and please forward it to others who could provide input.

They are working to improve the understanding of the digital practices people undertake or wish they could undertake in the arts, humanities and GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and libraries) communities so that they can tailor their approach to supporting this community, and make recommendations to others working in the field.

The survey asks about your views on digital-tools/software, your experience of developing digital-tools/software, and your practices and preferences for recruiting help with digital tool/software development.

This survey’s focus is the AHRC Research Community and therefore it has a UK focus; participants should be connected with a UK based institution. They will share the findings with AHRC to help them direct their digital infrastructure funding to better align with the communities’ needs. Note they will not share any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) as defined by GDPR with the AHRC.

They are actively seeking views from people who do not develop digital tools / software. They are seeking input from all roles, including senior decision makers, researchers, curators, librarians and software developers in the AHRC remit. As the survey is filled in from an individual perspective, we ask that you also forward it to members of your teams / network.

The survey is available at: http://bit.ly/ahrc-digital-requirements-survey, and should only take 15 minutes to complete. It closes at the end July 2021 after which there will be a prize draw. You will have a chance to win one of four £50 shopping vouchers (please opt-in during the survey).

Future Events

Juliacon 2021

28-30th July 2021 (online)


The annual conference championing the Julia language is here, online and everywhere at the end of July.

Register here

LunchBytes: SeptembRSE Satellite Special

Topic: TBD

As part of this year’s SeptembRSE conference (details above), our very own LunchBytes series will be taking part as a satellite session. Get your topic suggestions in on the JamBoard and watch this space for details.


12 - 18th July 2021

SciPy 2021, the 20th annual Scientific Computing with Python Conference will be a virtual conference July 12-18. SciPy® is a community dedicated to the advancement of scientific computing through open source Python software for mathematics, science, and engineering. The annual SciPy Conference allows participants from all types of organizations to showcase their latest projects, learn from skilled users and developers, and collaborate on code development. The full program will consist of two days of tutorials followed by three days of presentations, and concludes with two days of developer sprints on projects of interest to attendees.


Submission Deadline: July 2nd 2021

6 - 30th September 2021

2021 Research Software Engineers (online) Conference. See News section above for full details.

Previous Events

In the last month, we’ve held not one but two LunchBytes sessions, recordings of the sessions can be found at the links below:


EPSRC Call: Software for Research Communities

The Research Software Engineering (RSE) Team (https://rse.shef.ac.uk/) are delighted to see the new call from the EPSRC: “Software for research communities” (https://www.ukri.org/opportunity/software-for-research-communities). It is something we’ve been advocating for for some time and it’s great to see it finally happening! The call specifically is specifically looking for inclusion of RSEs as part of the project delivery and we would be very happy to discuss with PIs about inclusion of RSEs from our team.

Researchers can cost our engineers in funding applications at a proportion of full time equivalent, bringing in software engineering expertise without the need to hire a dedicated RSE. If this is of interest to you in the context of this call, or any other funding application, please contact rse@sheffield.ac.uk at the earliest opportunity to talk about the project. We can provide useful advice even at an early stage, and we need to know well in advance about applications being submitted so we can do our best to arrange engineers with the best skills and experience when the project is (fingers-crossed!) funded.

Submissions open for a PeerJ special issue on software

Submission deadline: July 16th, 2021

Submit now to this PeerJ Computer Science Special Issue investigating the importance of - and best practice for - citing, indexing, and discovering software used as a scholarly research tool.

FAIR Data Stewardship Training Fellowship

ELIXIR-UK has partnered with the Software Sustainability Institute to build a Fellowship Programme to support and fund Data Stewards to train researchers in how to manage and share data in the life sciences. This programme is funded by the UKRI innovation scholars award and we look to recruit a total cohort of 20 Data Stewards in the Life Sciences through 2 rounds of applications through 2021-2022.

Each Fellow will receive a £3,000 honorarium, subject to tax, to support activities focused on writing and delivering training material in the arena of data management to a target audience of individuals working in the Life Sciences. This Fellowship aims to recruit applicants who work with data day-to-day, to build a community of Data Stewards with practical experience of contemporary life science data management in the UK.

This is a fantastic opportunity for those passionate about data management and training. We envisage that this programme will contribute to the professionalisation of data stewardship, which has often been underrepresented in the life science community. Join us and become empowered to develop communities, network with others who share your goals and learn new skills that will benefit you and your collaborators.

Fellows will be given training, develop teaching material in their area of specialism and take our data steward training into their own institutions. We hope that this will expand the reach of data steward training across the UK and to provide a network for people working in this area.

Web and Blogs


Archer Message-Passing with MPI

This new online self-service course uses the de facto standard for message passing, the Message Passing Interface (MPI). It covers:

  • point-to-point communication
  • non-blocking operations
  • derived datatypes
  • virtual topologies
  • collective communication
  • general design issues

This self-service course includes a series of Lecture videos (with closed captions and downloadable PDF slides) which you can work through at your own pace and in your own time.

Hands-on practical programming exercises are included, with the option of working in either C, C++ or Fortran.

Access to ARCHER2 is provided for participants to build and run the exercises.

RSE Sheffield’s Services

The RSE Sheffield team aims to collaborate with you to help improve your research software. We can provide dedicated staff to ensure that you can deliver excellent research software engineering on your research projects.

The RSE Sheffield team provides free Code Clinics (in collaboration with IT Services), plus paid services that allow us to collaborate longer term.

Contact Us

For queries relating to collaborating with the RSE team on projects: rse@sheffield.ac.uk

Information and access to JADE II and Bede.

Join our mailing list so as to be notified when we advertise talks and workshops by subscribing to this Google Group.

Queries regarding free research computing support/guidance should be raised via our Code clinic or directed to the University IT helpdesk.