Teaching: 10 min
Exercises: 10 min
  • What are the key differences between research software and ‘normal’ projects?

  • What does ‘done’ look like for a research software project?

  • What are the goals of this class?

  • Compare and contrast research software projects and ‘normal’ software projects.

  • Name and explain key features of a mature research software project.


Key differences between research software and “normal” projects

What does “done” look like?

  1. Software can be used by people other than original authors
    • Reproducibility meaningless without this
  2. Reasonably confident that results are correct
    • As trustworthy as physical experiment
  3. Small changes and extensions are easy
    • I.e., researchers can safely make small changes to code
  4. Fast enough to be useful
  5. Can be maintained by people other than its original author(s)
    • I.e., it is sustainable
  6. Has a citable publication described in an easy-to-find way so that users can credit the project in an academically-digestible form

For our purposes:

Create a Value Proposition for Your Project

Fill in the template below for your current project.

  1. For [description of target users]
  2. who want to [statement of their need(s)],
  3. [project name]
  4. provides [statement of key benefits].
  5. Unlike [name of alternative solutions(s)],
  6. our project enables users to [key differentiator].

Describe How Your Project is Managed

Write a short point-form description (5-6 bullets) of how your current project is managed:

  1. Who uses the software?
  2. How?
  3. How do they find the software?
  4. How do they set it up?
  5. Who decides what to change and when?
  6. How are decisions and changes circulated?

Key Points

  • Requirements for small research software projects are typically emergent.

  • Research software is ‘good enough’ when people other than its authors can use it with confidence and extend it with reasonable effort.