Write Software as Part of Your Research?

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Have you heard of Software Carpentry (SWC) and Data Carpentry (DC)? Both organisations have the aim of upskilling researchers so they can upgrade their computational and programming skills and their data analysis skills respectively through a series of workshops and “train the trainer” events.

The Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMIST) in the School of Social Sciences has been working with DC to develop a new curriculum for workshops specifically designed for the social sciences. The key goal is to teach researchers how they can use open source software to undertake data analysis particularly that involving more complex ‘big’ data sources, more reproducibly and efficiently. As a result of this, CMIST have been able to provide a 3 year membership of the SWC/DC foundation from January 2018 for the university. The membership will open up training opportunities for all Manchester researchers to become instructors in SWC and DC and to enrol on the courses to learn the skills required.

CMIST are now seeking to establish a local community of potential SWC/DC instructors and users which will meet regularly to discuss issues relating to teaching of the workshops and to share best practice. They are also seeking to advertise the benefits of the training to other Schools in the University that might benefit and who would like to find out more about the content of the workshops.

Within Research IT there are already a number of certified SWC/DC instructors who teach SWC/DC courses on campus and Research IT will be working closely with CMIST with two members of staff (Robert Haines and David Mawdsley) on the local DC Steering Committee which has been set up to manage Manchester’s Carpentries’ membership.

The next step is for interested individuals and current local instructors to come together.  A meeting will be held on November 8th 12 -1 pm in Kilburn 1.10 to bring together those currently involved with SWC/DC and those who want to find out more. We will discuss the aims of SWC/DC, current initiatives in curriculum development and how we can develop training in the next three years of membership across the University. We also hope to identify some particular examples of where carpentry / computing training has helped in developing or conducting research projects. Refreshments will be provided. Please book your place in advance by contacting Rachel Gibson.

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