Report back from eResearch 2016

15 February, 2016

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A highlight for Finlay of the recent Queenstown eResearch conference, was hearing the wider research community endorse the value of the principles and methods that are central to how Dragonfly operates.

“I was very happy to hear other people promoting the idea that data should be accessible and open by default. We’ve always encouraged our clients to make their data publicly available and have seen many benefits for those who do.”

Finlay says closed by default is the current norm. “The onus is on you to make it open, which is often a lot of work. I think this simple switch would make a massive improvement in the opportunities to collaborate within and outside universities and CRIs in New Zealand.”

A presentation by Max Wilkinson who leads a CONZUL (Council of New Zealand University Librarians) working group, was another highlight. The working group has prepared a research data management report that sets out an approach that could be used uniformly across all universities to improve access to information resources.

“I was particularly pleased to meet Max, who’s recently arrived from London, and hear about his work. It was also good to hear about another new initiative, Software Carpentry, promoted by NeSI.”

This online resource is taught by trained instructors with the goal of increasing the software literacy of all science researchers. NeSI believes the lack of skill in programming is a hindrance to research and that all science postgraduate students should be exposed to basic programming skills.

“What I think is interesting is that the skills they’re expecting their students to learn are exactly the skills we use all the time. They’ve come to the same conclusion that writing code is an essential tool for a researcher.”

Finlay has also been invited to present at a ResBaz (Research Bazaar, another NeSI initiative) workshop in April in Wellington, with researchers from NIWA, Victoria and Massey Universities and other institutions invited.

“The conference raised a lot of issues that are pertinent to our work. It gave me contact with people who are facing those same issues – about how science gets done and what are the obstacles are. I valued the introductions and network opportunities.”

eResearch 2016 was held in Queenstown from 9–11 February with the theme ‘Next generation: collaboration, capabilities and impact’. Finlay’s talk was titled ‘Trust but verify, fisheries science in the cloud’. He spoke about recent work at Dragonfly and highlighted the importance of continuous integration as a tool to lift the quality and reproducibility of code.

Contact Finlay Thompson ( to talk about open data and collaborative research.