The policy team works with the research community to understand the issues surrounding the use of research software, and then campaigns to raise awareness and solve those issues.
Discussion of our work can be found through the website's analysis feed.
Supporting people who write code, not papers
At our Collaborations Workshop in 2012 the term "Research Software Engineer" (RSE) was coined to describe people who work in academia writing the code used by researchers. Since 2013, we have campaigned to gain recognition for this vital group of people which numbers somewhere in the thousands in the UK alone.
Our campaign has led to the creation of the UK RSE Association, which numbers over 700 members, the growth of Research Software Groups around the country, the creation of a new Fellowship, the launch of a hugely successful conference and a significant increase in recognition for the role of the Research Software Engineer.
You can read a history of the RSE campaign or the RSE: State of the Nation Report to learn more about the community. More information about this campaign is available on the Research Software Engineers' page
How many researchers use software?
If you work in research, it's likely that you'll believe that software is ubiquitous, but to effect change we have to collect evidence.
Our first study, based on a survey of the research community, found that 7 out of 10 UK researchers report that their work would be impossible without software (the analysis for this survey was recently repeated and reproduced). We also investigated data available on Gateway to Research and found that a minimum of £840 million was invested in software reliant research in 2013/14 alone. We collect information about the community through surveys which helps us answer questions such as what software is used in research? We also investigated Researchfish outcomes to understand how much software is being reported by UK researchers.
We also ran a petition to get people to show that software is fundamental to research.
Women in software
We are working with various partners to ensure that women are attracted to software careers. We run a blog series about women in software, we've worked with Microsoft Research on gender research and we have run workshops and bootcamps to provide training specifically for women who work with software.
We are frequently asked to speak, provide advice and appear on panels. We use these opportunities to raise diversity issues and ask the organisers to ensure adequate representation at events. We have also suggested an idea for a first measure of diversity at events.
A community for e-Infrastructure trainers
The e-Infrastructure training community is fragmented, which makes it difficult to share best practice and resources, and leads to duplication of effort. We are working to create a community of e-Infastructure trainers, which started with a successful and well-attended workshop at the Hartree Centre in Daresbury.