SURESOFT: Towards Sustainable Research Software

Researchers develop software to process or generate data to test their scientific hypotheses. Especially researchers from STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) validate their models through self-developed software prototypes. However, they do not necessarily have a programming or software engineering background. Moreover, scientific software development happens in a time-constrained environment focusing on the fast publication of results. In addition, as scientists usually have limited contracts, the software is developed with short-term goals in mind. Therefore, the resulting software is mostly rapidly developed and contains code artifacts that are hard to maintain, extend and even reproduce due to missing documentation or dependencies. These factors, among others, hinder researchers from progressing and further developing their software. Thus, research software sustainability is vital to the research process to ensure that software can be evolved and reused by the next generation of scientists. To foster sustainability, scientists can highly benefit from education in principles and practices of software engineering, which can further be supported by established methods, tools, and technologies. This paper introduces SURESOFT, a twofold approach to address challenges in the development of research software regarding sustainable science that combines tools and infrastructure with education in the form of workshops and training. Furthermore, we report our experience of applying the SURESOFT approach to five software projects from different fields and discuss challenges, such as common bad practices and applicability in diverse scenarios.


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