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The CIT joins global initiative to support research software sustainability

23 October 2023
Center for Information Technology (CIT). ©UG, photo: Peter van der Sijde

In a significant move towards bolstering the sustainability of research software, the University of Groningen's Center for Information Technology (CIT) has officially signed the Amsterdam Declaration on Funding Research Software Sustainability ( . The declaration, initiated by the Research Software Alliance and the Netherlands eScience Center, aims to set global standards for funding and maintaining research software, ensuring its long-term availability and improvement.

By signing the declaration, the CIT positions itself as a leader in supporting the long-term viability of research software, being the first in the Netherlands and joining three worldwide prestigious organizations, the Digital Research Alliance of Canada, the Australian Research Data Commons, and the Forskningsrådet/Research Council of Norway, in this pioneering endeavor.

Prof. dr. Ronald Stolk, director of the CIT and CIO of the UG, emphasises the commitment of the institution to software sustainability: 'With this declaration, we are demonstrating our genuine commitment to the sustainability of research software.' A Milestone in research software sustainability

Version 1.0 of the was officially unveiled by the eScience Center on September 21, 2023. This milestone document represents the first systematic effort to lay out the core principles and recommendations for funding research software sustainability.

Whole fields or institutions may depend on research software, yet its sustainability is invariably constrained by financial resources and funding agencies.

Research software encompasses any code or script enabling researchers to process, manipulate, generate, and analyze data or automate and test various procedures. It plays a pivotal role in ensuring reproducible workflows and facilitating groundbreaking research outcomes.

Dr. Burcu Beygu, Research Data and Software Management expert of the UG Digital Competence Centre (DCC), highlights, 'Sustaining research software differs from sustaining research data, and in many scientific fields, research software plays a crucial role. It is often linked to field-dominant critical software that underpins entire research endeavors. Whole fields or institutions may depend on it, yet its sustainability is invariably constrained by financial resources and funding agencies.'

The declaration is not merely a symbolic gesture but comes with practical tools to ensure its implementation. The Toolkit provides examples of funder programs, policies, and resources to support the recommendations in four key areas: research software practice, research software ecosystem, research software personnel, and research software ethics. This living resource will be continually updated to accommodate new information.

ADORE.Software logo
Amsterdam Declaration on Funding Research Software Sustainability logo

Promoting software sustainability at the CIT

For the CIT, endorsing the declaration signifies a commitment to promote values aligned with the declaration and advocate for the support of these principles at both organizational and individual levels.

Prof. dr. Ronald Stolk stressed the importance of aligning research software with these principles, 'As a university, our mission is to add value to society, which entails creating software that can benefit not just us but others as well. It's vital that we inform researchers of our expertise and offer assistance in making their research software sustainable.' Dr. Burcu Beygu includes, 'The Toolkit should serve as a vital reference and checklist for those developing research software at the UG.'

The Toolkit should serve as a vital reference and checklist for those developing research software at the UG.

The CIT has already taken significant steps in championing research software and best practices. The research support teams of the CIT offer services for the adoption of guidelines, providing training, workshops, and events designed to enhance researchers' skills and build competencies among researchers and Ph.D. students. The Digital Competence Centre (DCC) advises researchers on software maintenance and offers consultancy on research software management plans, which are akin to data management plans and are an NWO requirement.

Other initiatives, such as Data Autonomy and the Open Source Project Office (OSPO), provide research software support services with advice on data sovereignty. Ronald further added, 'There is a strong connection between the open-source community and research software sustainability. Although the emphasis may differ slightly, I believe it aligns with the challenges we aim to address.'

Facing challenges, embracing the future

The need for software maintenance varies according to the type of software. While some software may be straightforward and replaceable, others are essential for scientific outcomes, requiring ongoing maintenance to ensure reproducibility. Updates to accommodate new technology or changes in operating systems need human intervention and, consequently, funding.

Maintaining software is a formidable task. Often, it's only considered during a project's lifespan, as that's when resources and funding are available. However, if the software becomes a staple in a field and is widely adopted, issues arise.-- Dr. Burcu Beygu

The signing of the declaration by the CIT marks a significant stride toward addressing these challenges and promoting the sustainability of research software, setting a precedent for other institutions to follow. As software continues to play an increasingly vital role in scientific research, initiatives like are pivotal in ensuring that it remains accessible, reliable, and impactful in the years to come.

More information

Research Software Alliance. (2023). Amsterdam Declaration on Funding Research Software Sustainability (1.0). Zenodo.

Last modified:13 June 2024 10.50 a.m.
View this page in: Nederlands

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