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28 March 2013

Exploring the non-technical challenges of developing software to support a community of research scientists Or: An everyday story of developer folk

Location: Meeting Room 10, 2nd Floor, JLB
Time: 12:30pm - 13:45pm

This paper is grounded in a four-year long field study of the development of infrastructure software for supporting structural biologists as their practice moved from an individual to a collaborative model. Using data from this study, I identify the non-technical challenges facing this and similar developments. Some challenges are due to unwarranted assumptions based on past experience such as scientific end-user or commercial development. These challenges might be addressed by raising awareness of the assumptions and by allocating resources to specific areas of the development, such as the establishment of requirements. Other challenges are less tractable being attributable to the organisation and culture of science. These include: moving to a collaborative model of scientific practice given an individual model of reward (witness the REF); the low status afforded to scientific end-user developers in academia; and the fact that funding for such developments might be dependent on their pursuing multiple aims.

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Contact: mailto:h.c.sharp@open.ac.uk