Research Software Engineers

We need your help with our campaign for Research Software Engineers (i.e. software experts who work in academia).

Last year's survey [1] allowed us to prove that software experts make a huge contribution to research, but often go unacknowledged and are paid less than their research counterparts. To continue our success with this campaign, we need to track how the community evolves over time, so please complete our survey.

It takes around 15 minutes and all demographic questions are non-mandatory.

It would be very helpful if you could forward this email to any software experts you know who work in academia, or anyone who employs software experts in academia.

[1]: See RSE State of the Nation Report 2017, page 21.

About the survey

The purpose of this survey is to collect information about people who develop software that is used in research. We call these people Research Software Engineers (RSEs), but they use many different job titles (including postdoctoral researcher and research assistant).

Please note that this research is not compulsory and even if you decide to participate you can withdraw at any moment.

This study is conducted by the University of Southampton on behalf of the Software Sustainability Institute and complies with University of Southampton ethics guidelines (reference no.: ERGO/FPSE/25269). The investigators are Simon Hettrick and Olivier Philippe. The survey is hosted on Limesurvey servers in Germany and respects the provisions of the Data Protection Act. These records are anonymised and access is strictly protected…

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Candidates are invited to submit an outline proposal in the first instance. Up to £4m is available for this call. EPSRC expects to fund 4 – 8 Fellows in this call, for a period of up to 5 years. Please note only 2 submissions per institution are allowed.

The aim of this call is to provide long-term funding to individuals working as Research Software Engineers who demonstrate exceptional leadership skills and will be able to co-ordinate and promote the role of Research Software Engineers in academia. 

Closing date is 8th June 2017.

Please note that you must read the full Call document for guidance before submitting your proposal. 

EPSRC Research Software Engineer Fellowship

The RSE Fellowship describes exceptional individuals in the software field who demonstrate leadership and have combined expertise in programming and a solid knowledge of the research environment. The Research Software Engineer works with researchers to gain an understanding of the problems they face, and then develops, maintains and extends software to provide the answers. As well as having expertise in computational software development and engineering, the RSE Fellow should be an ambassador for the research software community and have the potential to be a future research leader in the RSE community. RSE Fellows should promote the widespread use of computation and software best practice to enhance research.

Relevant links

EPSRC Software as an…

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How to get EPSRC RSE FellowshipBy Christopher Woods, EPSRC RSE fellow, University of Bristol

As one of the RSEs who hit the jackpot and had their EPSRC RSE Fellowship applications funded, I know how crucial it was that my University supported my application. I was very lucky that the University of Bristol provided an excellent letter of support. Among other things, the University committed to a capital budget, management training, and, most importantly, a permanent position helping to create a new Research Software Engineering Group within the Advanced Computing Research Centre in IT Services. These promises demonstrated the partnership and level of commitment that existed between Bristol and myself. I know this was recognised and rated highly by the reviewers and panel.

So, how did I get this level of institutional support? And what recommendations do I have on how you could achieve something similar?

First, I should say that all universities and individuals are different, so this is not a one-size-fits-all objective recipe. However, there are some generalisations that I believe are true.

An RSE Fellowship is a Fellowship

You’re applying for a Fellowship, so the normal advice about how to get a university to support any Fellowship or major grant application is valid. While the Fellowship…

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TexGen: Modelling textilesBy Louise Brown, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham and EPSRC Research Software Engineer Fellow

This article is part of our series: A day in the software life, in which researchers from all disciplines discuss the tools that make their or someone else’s research possible.

Composite materials are increasingly used in a wide range of applications, particularly in the aerospace and automotive industries. Here their low weight and high strength are a significant advantage, and they will contribute to achieve targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the weight of components and therefore energy used. They comprise a reinforcement embedded in a matrix and may be made up from many combinations of materials, typically glass or carbon fibre in a polymer matrix.  Often the reinforcements are produced in the form of textiles for ease of handling, either layering ‘2D’ weaves to give the required thickness or by creating complex ‘3D’ weaves which can enhance properties and reduce manufacturing time.

Given the many possible combinations of reinforcement textiles and matrix materials, it is beneficial to be able to model these systems so that simulations can be run to predict properties for both manufacturing processes and the final…

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RSE State of the NationBy Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director.

The first State of the Nation Report for Research Software Engineers provides a history of the RSE campaign and a snapshot of the RSE community as it stands today. If you want to know how a name coined during one of our workshops turned into an 800 strong community which is gathering interest from around the world, then the report is a good place to start.

Most research would be impossible without software, and this reliance is forcing a rethink of the skills needed in a traditional research group. With the emergence of software as the pre-eminent research tool used across all disciplines, comes the realisation that a significant majority of results are based, ultimately, on the skill of the experts who design and build that software.

The UK has led the world in supporting a new role in academia: the Research Software Engineer (RSE). This report describes the new expert community that has flourished in UK research, details the successes that have been achieved, and the barriers that prevent further progress.\

The report is available for download from Zenodo: 10.5281/zenodo.495360.

Research Software Engineers, EPSRC, funding awardEPSRC has awarded £100K to the Software Sustainability Institute and the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) to build links and network with the USA HPC communities, announced today at the Tier-2 launch in Birmingham. As part of this funding, a sum of £35,000 has been made available to support collaboration, share knowledge and build stronger partnerships between UK and US Research Software Engineers (RSEs). The Software Sustainability Institute will administer this initiative and make grants available to support objectives such as sharing specific expertise or projects, or promoting and sharing RSE experiences with international centres.

This funding aims to encourage greater collaboration around the following topics:

  • investigating emerging hardware and the impact on software;

  • building collaboration around a particular science area;

  • developing common community codes;

  • building links between computational /computer science and maths.

An initial round of funding will target applications from EPSRC RSE Fellows, the UK Research Software…

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RSE Conference 2017Following the success of the First Conference of Research Software Engineers, the Second Conference will be held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester on the 7th-8th September 2017. We are expecting a lively, international mix of over 200 attendees and are now announcing the opening of the calls for talks, posters, workshops and tutorials.

RSE17 is not a standard academic conference! It’s a community conference: get involved and help us build the RSE Community.

The deadline is Friday 28th April, with an early deadline of Friday April 7th for those who want to apply for £250 travel bursaries.

For more information, please visit the RSE website.

Registration for the conference will open on May 31st. If you want to be notified, please sign up for notifications using this form

Research Software Engineers, BBSRCBy Mike Croucher, Research Software Engineer at University of Sheffield and Software Sustainability Institute Fellow

Reposted with the author's permission. This article was originally published in Walking Randomly

The job title ‘Research Software Engineer’ (RSE) wasn’t really a thing until 2012 when the term was invented in a Software Sustainability Institute collaborations workshop. Of course, there were lots of people doing Research Software Engineering before then but we had around 200 different job titles, varying degrees of support and career options tended to look pretty bleak.  A lot has happened since then including the 2016 EPSRC RSE Fellowsthe first international RSE conference and a host of University-RSE groups popping up all over the country.

In my talk, Is your Research Software Correct?, I tell the audience ‘If you need help, refer to your local RSE team. All good Universities have a central RSE team and if yours does not…..I refer you back to the word ‘good'' It always…

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Founders of the de-RSE chapter
Founders of the de-RSE chapter

By Martin Hammitzsch, GFZ Potsdam, Stephan Janosch, MPI CBG & Frank Loeffler, Louisiana State University

The days following the first conference of Research Software Engineers (RSEs) saw the launch of a German RSE chapter de-RSE. It was formed by RSEs working inside and outside Germany, and it will further the shared objectives of RSEs and become the collective mouthpiece for RSEs within the German science.

All of the authors were exposed to the day-to-day problems caused by using software in science, and this meant that many of us were following the Software Sustainability Institute, and a few other activities around the globe. The lucky ones among us were even able to participate in events over the last few years to see how to improve our situation. Over the last few years a critical mass of motivated Research Software Engineers (RSEs) formed at various locations across Europe, North America and a few other countries. Then in September 2016, the world's first conference for RSEs took place in Manchester. It was the right time for this event. Bringing together RSEs lead to discussions about how to transfer the UKRSE spirit to other countries. How could other national science systems benefit from the professionalisation of software engineering in sciences? How can the people behind research software receive the the acknowledgement and resources they deserve?

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RSE conferenceBy Catherine Jones, Diversity Chair.

Why did the RSE Conference have a diversity chair? What was the impact? What can we do better next time? These are the three questions I hope this blog will answer.

Different backgrounds and experiences enhance a team and help to avoid group think. Diversity has many different aspects, but the main two that the RSE conference focussed on were gender and ethnicity. It was an aspiration that the conference organisers, speakers and attendees reflected the makeup of the RSE community. Having someone responsible for diversity ensured that it was consciously considered during planning. As part of this commitment to diversity, the RSE Conference had a diversity statement  and code of conduct.

Who organised it?

What was the makeup of the committee? This was remarkedly gender balanced for the domain, the chart belows shows the gender split. Sadly it wasn’t very ethnically diverse.

Gender on committee

Who contributed?

Of the registered attendees 72% were male, 16% were female and 12% preferred not to say or didn’t answer. So that for those who identified their gender 18% were female. Looking at ethnicity: 76%…

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