Photo by Mat Reding on Unsplash.


  • Daniel S. Katz
  • Stephan Druskat
  • Ian Cosden
  • Paul Richmond
  • Anne Fouilloux

A blog post from the 2nd International RSE Leaders Workshop 2020.

The RSE movement has been very successful, leading to thousands of both formally titled and self-described RSEs, about 7 national or multinational RSE associations, and a series of international RSE events (SORSE). This growth has led to a challenge, that there is no formal mechanism to ensure that the national associations collaborate internationally. This means that there is no clear view on who should be running international branded events such as an “International RSE Conference” and no active coordination to ensure that the national associations don't compete for conference dates by accident. In addition to organisational aspects, associations often face similar governance and policy challenges as well as potentially duplicating initiatives that could be run across associations. At the same time there is a need to provide resources and a point of contact for aspiring communities. It is necessary to find a working model for communities with a broad spectrum of maturity levels, giving a forum to the ones further ahead in the process of establishing an initiative, while providing means for others to get started.

The solution

Based on discussion at the 2nd International RSE Leaders Workshop, a set of national and multinational associations

have created the “International Council of RSE Associations” (“The Council”) as a forum to communicate and formally meet to ensure cohesion between associations and to provide a platform for open discussion around international issues and affairs. This enables collective decision making, collaboration among national associations as well as peer support.

Each member association has agreed to send two representatives (members of the association’s leadership group, well versed in current RSE events and capable of speaking on behalf of the association) to the Council, which meets virtually at least two times per year, and likely more as we start up.

The initial goals of the International Council of RSE Associations are:

1. Communication and Coordination

This includes coordination of participation in other interest groups, such as the Research Software Alliance (ReSA) and the Research Data Alliance (RDA); coordination of advocacy, developing a common argument for advocating for the implementation of Research Software Engineering for institutions, policy makers, funders, etc.; event coordination, to minimize the likelihood that associations schedule conflicting events; international RSE event branding, that the Council can approve of the use of the term “International RSE” for events; and international conference planning, such as potentially an international conference rotated around societies/associations.

2. Discussion Forum

The member associations can raise questions and set the agenda for discussion on topics pertaining to the organization and operation of a national association, to create a general forum to share knowledge, experiences, and best practices surrounding the formation and growth of national RSE associations, and to make this knowledge available to both established and new associations.

3. Avoiding and resolving conflicts between Associations

Regular Council meetings provide a formal and public opportunity to ask questions to other associations, particularly where other associations are interested in the answers. And should a substantive conflict between associations arise, the Council will provide a formal path to conflict resolution. Member associations can bring the issue to the Council meeting and request the Council work together to resolve the issue.

4. Development of new national associations

The Council will help and to encourage initiatives to develop new national RSE associations. The new establishing associations can attend the council as observing participants, and at the end of Council meetings, these observing participants can ask questions to the Council or offer items for discussion. This is intended to give the leaders of burgeoning communities an opportunity to listen and learn from Council associations to further support the growth of their communities. Once matured, the new associations can become full members of the Council. While the addition of future association members will be voted on by the existing Council membership, the Council currently thinks that important criteria for membership are:

  • Creating an identifiable and branded web presence
  • Agreeing to participate in the International RSE survey
  • Creating a unique and branded forum (persistent chat (channel), mailing list, etc) consisting of 20 or more individuals with active participation from members
  • Uniquely representing the RSE community in one or more countries
  • Having had at least one (documented) group activity in the 12 months before joining the Council, such as a community event, community call, annual general meeting, or similar


The Council's first meeting was 25 January 2021 and it plans to meet on a regular basis throughout the year. The Council can be contacted at [email protected].