Community drop-in sessions for UK researchers and RSEs writing software for research
Software is now a key element in huge array of research outputs across almost all domains.
As data volumes continue to grow, models and algorithms get more complex and research processes require increasingly advanced pipelines, more and more researchers will find themselves writing or working with software.
RSdropinUK aims to provide regular, informal, community-led sesssions where researchers and research software developers can come along to ask questions about technical problems or challenges, or to ask for general technical advice. The sessions offer a friendly and welcoming, non-judgemental environment where you can ask for technical advice or assistance without concern about being judged on your level of technical knowledge, expertise or understanding. We ask that all helpers and attendees adhere to our code of conduct to ensure that these values are upheld.
As our organisers and helpers know, many of us working with software in the research community have been trained in domains where computing has not traditionally been a key element. There can be lots to learn in terms of new jargon and technical skills and we all have to start somewhere.
We can help with:
- General programming problems including helping to identify and fix bugs.
- Web/user interface development including widely used front and back-end web frameworks such as React, Angular, Django, Shiny, etc.
- Software sustainability: best practices for testing, managing and packaging your code.
- Reproducible research: advice on ensuring that your software is developed in a manner that supports long-term reproducibility of research outputs, including techniques for packaging and archiving code.
- Advice on training including courses to look at, topics to consider and developing a training plan to support your research needs.
- Non-specific High Performance Computing (HPC) support and advice - while we can’t offer support tailored to individual HPC platforms at different institutions we can offer support and advice on working with widely used job schedulers such as PBS or SLURM and the general approaches and skills required when working with HPC resources.
To contribute to helping improve the quality of software developed in the research community and the resulting quality of research outputs.
To help ensure equity in access to research software knowledge and support within the research community, regardless of your research domain and prior technical knowledge and expertise.
Each drop-in session will also include an informal tutorial/walkthrough of a research software engineering tool. This will be aimed at absolute beginners. Please see below for more details.
Our fornightly sessions run for two hours and are hosted via either Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
To help prevent unauthorised access to the sessions, we will not be publishing join links on the website. Instead there are two options for obtaining the join link for each session:
Register via our session registration form which closes 2 hours prior to the session. You will then be emailed the join link prior to the start of the session. (please use an institutional email address)
Obtain the link via the RSE Slack workspace where it will be posted in the #RSdropin channel.
You are welcome to drop in at any point during the two hour session. We also welcome attendees who want to drop in for general technical discussion with other members of the community.
If you have a technical problem that you feel may require specialist knowledge, either domain knowledge or advanced technical knowledge, there is a field on the registration form where you can highlight this. In such cases, please register via the form and we will aim to ensure that someone is present who has the relevant expertise to provide assistance.
The next session
Our next session will take place via Zoom on: Wednesday 27th October, 13:00-15:00 BST.
These sessions cannot be run without support from members of the community. If you’re willing to spend a couple of hours every few weeks to join a session and help out by answering questions or offering technical advice to other members of the research community, you can register as a helper via this form.
We’ll ask you for your affiliation and role and how often you think you might be able to help out as well as what expertise you can offer. Once registered as a helper, you’ll have the opportunity to sign-up to attend sessions (and, of course, you can join as an attendee too when you have questions on topics you’re less familiar with).
Code of Conduct
As highlighted above, we are committed to running sessions that offer a friendly, welcoming and non-judgemental environment. Somewhere that members of the community can come to ask for advice and assistance with technical problems without feeling concerned about being judged on their level of technical knowledge, expertise or understanding.
To support this, we ask that all helpers and attendees adhere to our Code of Conduct. In short, this reminds us all to be kind and respectful to the other attendees at these sessions. However, by joining our sessions, you agree to abide by this code so please familiarise yourself with the full Code of Conduct before participating in the sessions.
Who are we?!
RSdropinUK is being run by members of the UK RSE community. The activity has been set up by, and is currently being led by, Lucy Whalley and Jeremy Cohen. Please get in touch with us if you’re keen to get involved or to set up a national RSdropin series in another country.