I’m doing a PhD, how can BEAR help me?

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So you’re working on a PhD and you’re going to be managing data of some sort, even if you don’t produce any data of your own, you may be re-using existing data. Either way, you need to keep that data safe as it will get you your PhD! You might also need to use software to process that data. What can BEAR services offer to help?

Data storage

Whether you have a large or small amount of working research data to store, our Research Data Store (RDS) is for you! BEAR offers secure storage, backed up each night to two data centres on campus, so you can be confident that your data is safe. RDS storage is created by a supervisor/PI on a project basis and up to 3TB can be requested for 5 years. If your research is in Life Sciences, we have dedicated CaStLeS resources available. Ask your supervisor to fill in our project request form! We have some guidance on “Where should I store my research data?”.

Data processing

Our Linux-based High Performance Computing (HPC)/High-Throughput Computing (HTC) supercomputer, BlueBEAR, can be used to process data faster than on your own computer. There are over 1000 software applications installed, from ABAQUS to zstd, and you can ask us to install other software too. A full list can be found in BEAR Applications.

We also provide web-based access to selected applications via the BlueBEAR Portal.


Sometimes researchers need to use BEAR systems, but are not experts in software and programming! We offer Software Carpentry workshops in Git, MATLAB, Python, R, and Linux courses to prepare you for using BlueBEAR. Information and dates for courses are on our training website.

We also have recordings of previous courses and online courses available in Canvas:

Getting help

One of our most common methods to assist researchers is via the ServiceDesk. If you log a ticket with us, then the most appropriate member of the team will respond.

BEAR drop-in session stall
BEAR drop-in session, Main Library, April 2022

Regular drop-in sessions are held both online and in-person to give you access to the BEAR team and ask questions. From tricky software problems to sensitive data, come along and we can help!

We are also running monthly Coding Club events on topics such as Python, R and workflow tools. Details of our upcoming sessions are in our blog post. Join our Teams site – join code: fdlzdy3 or the Coding Club Canvas course for recordings of previous events.

BEAR Software provide support and advice on the use of research software and optimising BlueBEAR jobs to get the most from our facilities.

Lastly, we have a new Canvas course which covers everything you need to know about BEAR, including a 12-minute introductory video – you can self-enrol here: https://canvas.bham.ac.uk/enroll/E3CACD