A growing number of people in academia combine expertise in programming with an intricate understanding of research. Although this combination of skills is extremely valuable, these people lack a formal place in the academic system. This means there is no easy way top recognise their contribution, to reward them, or to represent their views.
Without a name, it is difficult for people to rally around a cause, so a group created the term Research Software Engineer (RSE) at our Collaborations Workshop in 2012. Since that time, we have campaigned to raise awareness of the role and bring the community together, and we have formed a community of RSEs that is now a democratic organisation with over 300 members.
Now that we have a strong community, the next stage of our campaign is to focus on employers of RSEs to ensure that career paths are put in place, we will campaign within different domains to draw a wider variety of RSEs into the community, and we will raise awareness of the importance of including a RSEs on funding proposals.
You can learn more from our not-so-brief history of RSEs and the RSE: State of the Nation Report 2017. If you care interested in how RSE Groups have been successful in the UK, then in "The secret behind the growth of RSE Groups in the UK" you can hear about the experiences of RSE group leaders in founding these groups.
A recognised position for RSEs in academia is fundamental in a world where most research is powered by software.
Survey of RSEs
In 2016 we surveyed hundreds of RSEs in the UK and Canada to learn more about their demographics, impact and careers. In 2017, we also conducted surveys in Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa and the USA. You can read a summary of the surveys or review the data yourself.
State of the Nation Report
Starting in 2017, the RSE Network will publish a State of the Nation report that summarises the growth of the RSE community. The report is available for download from Zenodo: 10.5281/zenodo.495360.
RSE Conference 2017
The RSE Conference took place on 7-8 September 2017 and attracted 221 people from 11 different countries.