About

Purpose

The purpose of the Research Computing service is to improve research through software. The research can be in any discipline and the software may be created by our Research Software Engineers (RSEs) or by researchers with our support.

Software can benefit research in a number of ways, including:

  • Enabling entirely new areas of inquiry through the application of computational techniques such as text mining
  • Improving efficiency by speeding up and automating repetitive tasks
  • Improving reproducibility by encapsulating research workflows in executable and reusable forms
  • Improving visibility by making data, analyses and other aspects of research projects available online to other researchers and the public

Our RSEs have worked for a number of years with researchers across the University on a wide range of projects, from Divinity to Biology, from shell scripts to interactive databases, and from assisting PhD students to being costed into multi-year collaborative and cross-disciplinary projects.

Using the service

Priority is given to projects where our RSEs have been included as a cost on the grant. UKRI and other funders understand the importance of RSEs to research and encourage their inclusion on grants. We can assist with writing such grants, or any grants which contain a significant computing component, whether or not Research Computing will be involved in the project itself.

Depending on resource availability, we may also be able to carry out unfunded development work.

We are generally available for advice and one-off consultations.

If you wish to get in touch with us, please email [email protected].

Service details

Previous projects have included project websites, interactive web applications for public use, mobile apps, and databases for gathering and analysing data. These have been implemented using a range of programming languages and other technologies including PHP, Python, Java, R, PostgreSQL, and various flavours of XML and associated technologies.

Where researchers are carrying out software development themselves, we can provide support and training for basic programming and associated topics, including version control with Git, most obviously through the Software Carpentry workshops we help run each semester. We can also work collaboratively with researchers on software projects.

This service aims to provide software which facilitates novel research, rather than the software itself being novel. For projects involving novel software engineering research, the Research Software Group in the School of Computer Science may be better able to help.

Training

Research Computing helps to organise and run regular Software Carpentry workshops. There is typically one 2-day workshop per semester with about 20 spaces. A workshop includes a day on a programming language (usually Python, sometimes R), half a day on the Unix Shell and half a day on Version Control with Git – all suitable for beginners.

Targeted training on a range of topics can be arranged as part of our work on individual research projects.

Community and related services

The Research Computing Network mailing list [VPN needed off-campus] is for anyone at St Andrews who works with code as part of their research. Browse the archive and register online to hear about relevant news, events and more in your inbox.

The Research Software Team in Microsoft Teams provides a forum for researchers working with code to connect, ask questions and engage in discussions.

The Research Software Group in the School of Computer Science may be of interest to anyone in other disciplines seeking to collaborate on a project which includes a novel computing approach.

Outside the University, the following provide useful resources and support for researchers who work with software: