Community of Edinburgh Research Software Engineers (CERSE): Reflections on the 7th meeting

In this blog Dr Eleni Kotoula, Lead Research Facilitator at the University of Edinburgh, writes about the CERSE and their most recent event.

What is CERSE?

CERSE is a community like no other! It offers an excellent opportunity for Research Software Engineers  (RSE) to get support and recognition for their work. In addition to Research Software Engineers, the CERSE welcomes those interested in the development, use, support or management of research software. Hence, researchers, research support and research data professionals can get involved, expand their network and broaden their understanding of research software engineering. To find out more, have a look at the CERSE Meeting Handbook.

A summary of CERSE’s 7th meeting

Members of the CERSE community across Edinburgh came together earlier this month in the Bayes Centre for the first post-pandemic meeting. After a long break from activities, the organisers from the University of Edinburgh Digital Research Services, EPCC, Sofware Sustainability Institute and the Centre of Data, Culture and Society were keen to resurrect meetings.

Mario Antonioletti opened the meeting, briefly referring to the RSE movement and its previous meetings in Edinburgh. Mike Wallis, Research Services Lead at the University of Edinburgh, gave an overview of the Edinburgh Compute and Data Facility, highlighting data storage, cloud and high performance computing services. Andrew Horne provided an update on EDINA’s ongoing project for the development of Automatic Systematic Reviews. Then, Mario Antonioletti presented EPCC and services such as Archer2 and Cirrus, as well as the important work of the Software Sustainability Institute. After the short talks, Felicity Anderson, PhD candidate in Informatics and Software Sustainability Institute Fellow, led an ice-breaking activity, followed by a networking session. All presentations are available here.

Next steps

The CERSE community has the potential to grow and flourish in a region so rich in research-intensive institutions and academic excellence. We aim to continue by alternating face-to-face and virtual meetings monthly. To do so, we need active participation from those interested in the RSE community. There are different ways to get involved; attending meetings, talking about your relevant work or volunteering to help organize one of the following meetings. For us in Digital Research Facilitation, CERSE offers the opportunity to meet and connect with researchers, RSEs, IT and research support staff. Moreover, we share the same passion for best practices in data-intensive and computational research. That’s why we have been heavily involved in supporting this community in practice and strongly encourage those interested to join us. We are looking forward to meeting you in one of the following CERSE meetings, either in person or online.

How to get involved?

Join the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) mailing list:

Follow the CERSE on Twitter:

Join the RSE:

Dr Eleni Kotoula
Digital Research Facilitation

Open Research Support at Russell Group Universities

As part of my work as Research Data Steward, I was asked by our Open Research Co-ordinator to investigate the open research support available at Russell Group universities and how the University of Edinburgh compares.[1] Open research, which is also known as “open science” or “open scholarship”, refers to a collection of practices and principles around transparency, reproducibility and integrity in research. To understand to what extent Russell Group universities have adapted to the ongoing development of open science, we have conducted analysis in terms of four areas. Do they have a published policy around Open Research? Do they have an Open Research Roadmap? Do they mention any training or specific support for researchers in achieving Open Research? What services do they provide to support Open Research?

Firstly, we checked whether those universities have a policy/statement that outlines the university’s approach to support open research and key principles for researchers. Less than 30% of these universities have a clear policy or statement for Open Research. Good examples include the University of Cambridge,[2] University of Sheffield,[3] and Cardiff University.[4]

Secondly, we checked whether they have a Roadmap that provides a set of questions that universities can use to monitor their progress in implementing Open Science principles, practices and policies at a local level. Among the Russell Group members, University of Edinburgh and University College London – two members of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) [5] provide a roadmap/page dedicated to monitor their progress. (Ours can be found on this Open Research page.)

Facets of open researchThirdly,what services are provided to researchers to make their work public? Most universities provide support like a data repository (except for LSE), Research Data Management support, Open Access to publications and thesis and guidance on sharing research software. A few provide support on protocols sharing. Some universities have started hosting an open research conference. For example, UCL Open Science Conference 2021, 2022,[6] Open Research Symposium hosted by the University of Southampton,[7] and University Open Research Conference, June 2021, at the University of Birmingham.[8] As an active member of LERU, our university also joined in to launch our first Edinburgh Open Research Conference in May, 2022.

Lastly, we have found all universities have training relevant to open research, with around half of them clearly advertising their training. Some good examples which we could learn from include the “Open Research education for doctoral students” from Imperial College[9]  and a practical libguide for open research provided by the University of York[10].

We are glad to see that Russell Group members have started adopting actions to support Open research, which is considered part of the new normal for research-intensive universities. However, this is a long and ongoing process. We have seen that many universities are still in the early stages of the implementation process and more can be done to advance their practice, including ours.

Yue Gu
Research Data Steward

[6] See the UCL Blog post for more information.
[8] See

FAIR dues to the Research Data Alliance

It has been a while since we’ve blogged about the Research Data Alliance (RDA), and as an organisation it has come into its own since its beginnings in 2013. One can count on discovering the international state of the art in a range of data-related topics covered by its interest groups and working groups which meet at its plenary events, held every six months. That is why I attended the 13th RDA Plenary held in Philadelphia earlier this month and I was not disappointed.

I arrived Monday morning in time for the second day of a pre-conference sponsored by CODATA on FAIR and Responsible Research Data Management at Drexel University. FAIR is a popular concept amongst research funders for illustrating data management done right: by the time you complete your research project (or shortly after) your data should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.

Fair enough, but we data repository providers also want to know how to build the ecosystems that will make it super-easy for researchers to make their data FAIR, so we need to talk to each other to compare notes and decide exactly what each letter means in practice.

Borrowed from OpenAire 

Amongst the highlights were some tools and resources for researchers or data providers mentioned by various speakers.

  • The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) has created a FAIR self-assessment tool.
  • For those who like stories, the Danish National Archives have created a FAIRytale to help understand the FAIR principles.
  • ARDC with Library Carpentry conducted a sprint that led to a disciplinary smorgasbord called Top Ten Data and Software Things.
  • DataCite offers a Repository Finder tool through its union with to find the most appropriate repository in which to deposit your data.
  • Resources for “implementation networks” from the EU-funded project GO FAIR, including training materials under the rubric of GO TRAIN.
  • The Geo-science focused Enabling FAIR Data Project is signing up publishers and repositories to commitment statements, and has a user-friendly FAQ explaining why researchers should care and what they can do.
  • A brand new EU-funded project, FAIRsFAIR (Fostering FAIR Data Practice in Europe) is taking things to the next level, building new networks to certifying learners and trainers, researchers and repositories in FAIRdom.

That last project’s ambitions are described in this blog post by Joy Davidson at DCC. Another good blog post I found about the FAIR pre-conference event is by Rebecca Springer at Ithaka S+R. If I get a chance I’ll add another brief post for the main conference.

Robin Rice
Data Librarian & Head of Research Data Support
Library & University Collections

Reflections on Repository Fringe 2017

The following is a guest post by Mick Eadie, Research Information Management Officer at University of Glasgow, on his impressions of Repository Fringe 2017.

Capture1From the Arts

The first day afternoon 10×10 (lightning talk) sessions had many of the presentations on Research Data topics.  We heard talks about repositories in the arts; evolving research data policy at national and pan-national level; and archival storage and integrations between research data repositories and other systems like Archivematica, EPrints and Pure.

Repositories and their use in managing research data in the arts was kicked off with Nicola Siminson from the Glasgow School of Art with her talk on What RADAR did next: developing a peer review process for research plans.  Nicola explained how EPrints has been developed to maximise the value of research data content at GSA by making it more visually appealing and better able to deal with a multitude of non-text based objects and artefacts.   She then outlined GSA’s recently developed Annual Research Planning (ARP) tool which is an EPrints add-on that allows the researcher to provide information on their current and planned research activities and potential impact.

GSA have built on this functionality to enable the peer-reviewing of ARPs, which means they can be shared and commented on by others.   This has led to significant uptake in the use of the repository by researchers as they are keen to keep their research profile up-to-date, which has in turn raised the repository profile and increased data deposits.  There are also likely to be cost-benefits to the institution by using an existing system to help to manage research information as well as outputs, as it keeps content accessible from one place and means the School doesn’t need to procure separate systems.

On Policy

We heard from Martin Donnelly from the DCC on National Open Data and Open Science Policies in Europe.  Martin talked about the work done by the DCC and SPARC Europe in assessing policies from across Europe to assess the methodologies used by countries and funders to promote the concept of Open Data across the continent.   They found some interesting variants across countries: some funder driven, others more national directives, plans and roadmaps.  It was interesting to see how a consensus was emerging around best practice and how the EU through its Horizon 2020 Open Research Data Pilot seemed to be emerging as a driver for increased take up and action.

Storage, Preservation and Integration

No research data day would be complete without discussing archival storage and preservation.  Pauline Ward from Edinburgh University gave us an update on Edinburgh DataVault: Local implementation of Jisc DataVault: the value of testing. She highlighted the initial work done at national level by Jisc and the research data Spring project, and went on to discuss the University of Edinburgh’s local version of Data Vault which integrates with their CRIS system (Pure) – allowing a once only upload of the data which links to metadata in the CRIS and creates an archival version of the data.  Pauline also hinted at future integration with DropBox which will be interesting to see develop.

Alan Morrison from the University of Strathclyde continued on the systems integration and preservation theme by giving as assessment of Data Management & Preservation using PURE and Archivematica. He gave us the background to Strathclyde’s systems and workflows between Pure and Archivematica, highlighting some interesting challenges in dealing with file-formats in the STEM subjects which are often proprietary and non-standard.