• Introducing the International Council of RSE Associations

    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.

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  • How do RSE groups work?

    Photo by form on PxHere (CC-0).


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

    The Challenge: New Roles in Old Institutions

    Research Software Engineers (RSEs) are popping up everywhere across the research landscape. They may manage research data, administer High-Performance Computing (HPC) clusters, or develop scientific software, to name a few of their activities. RSEs have the background and skills to deal with the unique challenges that arise from the technical side of science. As demand for their services booms, a single RSE may quickly find themself managing a whole RSE group. However, their roles are rather novel, so it can be difficult to structure such a group or find a place in relatively rigid academic structures. How should a fledgling group leader organize their group? What are the pitfalls of different structures/models?

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  • Working Group: Single Entry Point and Marketplace for the RSE Community & RSE Profile Map

    Photo by delfi de la Rua on Unsplash.

    Authors: Julia Damerow, Martin Thomas Horsch, Stephan Janosch

    At the RSE Leadership Workshop in September 2020, this working group came together to discuss two main objectives. Part of the time, we talked about plans to provide a single entry point to the international RSE community. This discussion was based on previous work by which the website was established. The main goals were to make all relevant information on RSE communities around the world findable and accessible both to insiders and outsiders, and to explore the idea of a digital marketplace. Such a marketplace was envisioned to be a place where people and institutions could find the RSE support that they require and that would let individual RSEs and RSE groups acquire new projects. The other topic, we discussed was the idea of creating an RSE “profile map” that could serve as a tool for RSEs and non-RSEs alike to describe the different tasks and skill sets of an RSE. Since such a profile map would need a home, we considered this being part of the single entry point discussion.

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  • The Research Software Engineer's Toolkit: Information and tools to support the RSE community

    Photo by cottonbro from Pexels.

    Authors: Jeremy Cohen (Imperial College London), Alex Botzki (VIB), Jonathan Frawley (Durham University), Nick May (RMIT University), David Pérez-Suárez (University College London)

    As the profile of Research Software Engineering (RSE) continues to grow, increasing numbers of researchers are discovering RSE. Being able to find technical and domain-specific information is of vital importance in supporting RSEs in growing their knowledge and skills and undertaking their work. However, despite the wealth of technical material and information available, it can often be difficult to know where to find that piece of information that you need to solve a pressing technical issue, or just learn about a new topic or domain.

    The Research Software Engineer’s Toolkit is here to help! The toolkit will be an open community resource that is intended to provide “A set of documentation, tools and guidance to support Research Software Engineers in developing reliable, sustainable and robust code”. This wide-ranging remit makes the project challenging but also something that we hope will, ultimately, become a valuable community resource.

    The authors of this post came together as a team as part of the 2nd International RSE Leaders Workshop 2020 to look at the initial shell of the RSE Toolkit and decide how it can be taken forward to form an open community resource. This blog post highlights the team’s work.

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  • The 2nd International RSE Leaders Workshop 2020

    Pictured: A COVID-19-compatible “group photo” of most of the workshop participants.

    Organizers: Stephan Druskat (de-RSE), Radovan Bast (Nordic RSE), Ian A. Cosden (US-RSE), Anne Claire Fouilloux (Nordic RSE), Simon J. Hettrick (Society of Research Software Engineering, UK), Daniel S. Katz (US-RSE), Johan Philips (beRSE), Peter van Heusden (African RSSE), Ben van Werkhoven (NL-RSE), Claire Wyatt (Society of Research Software Engineering, UK)*

    In 2018, the first International RSE Leaders Workshop took place in London/UK. Amongst other successes, it saw the foundation of the Nordic RSE community and helped improve access to software expertise in research. Since then, the international RSE community has seen a lot of progress, with new associations being formed, new national and international RSE conferences (RSEConUK 2019, deRSE19, NL-RSE19, Nordic RSE conference, beRSE Research Software Developers Day) being run, and informal international collaboration strongly increasing. These developments led to an internationally run online replacement for the RSE conferences that had to be cancelled due to COVID-19: SORSE - the international Series of Online Research Software Events.

    To provide a discussion and knowledge exchange forum for the new generation of RSE associations and foster further collaboration between them, and to help new RSE communities form and establish themselves, we organized and ran the 2nd International RSE Leaders Workshop in September 2020. It was originally planned as an in-person event to take place in Oslo, Norway, but was moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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  • Tools for managing RSE projects

    Managing an RSE team can involve carrying out a broad range of tasks relating to the management of people and projects. The exact nature of these tasks will depend on the size of team, and the how the leadership role is defined within any particular institution, but they typically include scheduling, resource allocation, reporting, communication, task management and record keeping. Our discussion at the RSE Leaders Workshop in January 2018 focused on sharing knowledge about effective tools for managing these processes.

    Authors: Mark Woodbridge (Imperial College London), James Meakin (Radboud University Medical Center), Jim Procter (University of Dundee), Jeffrey Salmond (University of Cambridge), Daniel Smith (The Molecular Sciences Software Institute)

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  • International RSE Leaders Workshop

    By Alys Brett, UK Atomic Energy Authority / UK RSE

    In January 2018, leaders of Research Software Engineering groups, networks and initiatives from around the world gathered in London for the first ever International RSE Leaders workshop, organised by UK RSE. The event generated huge enthusiasm and progress towards the goal of improving access to software expertise in research by pooling knowledge, coordinating efforts and establishing collaboration.

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  • How to set up a national RSE association?

    Authors: James Hetherington Alan Turing Institute, Ben van Werkhoven Netherlands eScience Center, Robert Haines University of Manchester, Stephan Janosch Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Paul Hagan British Oceanographic Data Centre, Samar Elsheikh University of Cape Town, Radek Lonka Norwegian University of Science and Technology

    In this article we explain how to get an RSE network or association started in your country, region, community or institution. It first summarises the argument that has worked in other places, and the tone and style to take in persuading researchers of the value of RSEs. After that we list a number of practical steps that are often taken in starting a network.

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