Bayes Centre

The Software Sustainability Institute turns 10

The Software Sustainability Institute is celebrating 10 years of promoting better software in research.

The Institute is based at the Bayes Centre at the University of Edinburgh, working in partnership with the Universities of Manchester, Oxford and Southampton. It was founded in 2010 to help researchers across all disciplines to introduce software into their research or improve the software they already use. Software plays a fundamental role in research, with 7 out of 10 researchers reporting that their work would be impossible without it. For the past 10 years the Institute has worked to upskill researchers in the development and use of better software, while promoting a culture of open science. Researchers are encouraged to share the code used in their work which not only means its reproducibility can be tested, it also helps other researchers to continue to build upon and apply the code in future research.

Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director, said:

“From the get-go, the Institute was all about collaboration over competition. We were determined to be seen as honest, as doing the best job we could to advance research without hiding anything. Everything was open from very early on; meeting minutes, all the processes. We’d blog about the things we were thinking about, get feedback – and then blog about whether they worked or not. That was a real sea change to the environment that we came from.”

Simon HettrickDeputy Director

The past 10 years have seen the Institute create a strong and diverse community and run increasingly popular events. A high point has been developing recognition and a solid career structure for Research Software Engineers - software developers in academia. The job title has gone on to be recognised across much of UK academia and around the world. There are now RSE groups at over 28 UK universities plus more internationally, and the Society of Research Software Engineering was established last year.

Another success has been the Fellowship programme, providing funding and support to researchers who become ambassadors of good software practice within their research communities. Since the programme began the Institute has taken on almost 150 Fellows who help to promote its goals to a wider audience.

The Institute has continued to grow over the last 10 years, with the success of the Research Software Engineer movement, the establishment of an influential network of Fellows and its great community and events schedule. Now it’s looking forward to the next decade!

SSI Website