Take the 2021 international RSE survey: help us improve the RSE community

Patric Holmvall, Radovan Bast, Richard Darst, Samantha Wittke
November 30, 2021

Take the survey

Do you develop research codes, or generally work with research software or data analysis? Perhaps you even feel more connected to the technology side: programming, software, data, etc., rather than the writing of papers? Although this work is crucial to the research, the modern research environment seldom fully recognizes it, in contrast to other methodology development. Take part in the international Research Software Engineer (RSE) survey to help us understand how we can improve the situation. Your current position or job title does not matter, only that you feel connected to software, data, computation, or similar technology.

Link to the survey: https://softwaresaved.limequery.com/386272?lang=en

You can also help us by sharing the survey with others

Perhaps you are not writing research software as part of your work, but maybe your colleagues or collaborators are? Or perhaps a research group or research institute that you are in contact with? You can help us and the reach of the survey immensely, by sharing and making the survey more visible in mailing lists, group chats, blog posts, or newsletters. There are many RSEs out there who may not know about the RSE community, and that there are many more RSEs working across the Nordics/Baltics (and in the rest of the world). Many are not even aware about the term "Research Software Engineer", and that they are one. This survey is one way to reach them, and to raise awareness.

What and who is an "RSE"?

A Research Software Engineer is a person who combines the mindset of a researcher with the skills of a software developer. We interpret this inclusively, for people who might consider themselves data engineers, system specialists, and so on. For decades, research has been dependent on such roles, but without providing them proper career support or recognition. The Research Software Engineer movement aims to improve this situation by representation and advocating for these people and their work.

RSEs in the Nordics and Baltics

Nordic-RSE is the Nordic+Baltics association advocating for RSEs. Founded in 2017 and registered in Finland in 2021, it provides a community, periodic seminars, and in the future other events which can connect RSEs to like-minded individuals and promote career development. It will also advocate for the value of RSE services within the research process.

Why the survey matters

The survey is run worldwide every two or three years by the national RSE associations together with the Software Sustainability Institute, with the aim to provide a better understanding of the RSE community, and the environment in which research code is developed in. This insight is invaluable when trying to improve the situation for RSEs, and when applying for support from national associations, funders and other policy makers. The data from the survey is anonymized and published openly.

The 2018 survey was completed by nearly 1000 people around the world, providing a useful overview of the RSE landscape. For example, it allowed us to assess the average background, experience and primary disciplines of RSEs. Alarming results were found in terms of gender imbalance in all regions, and 50% of RSEs reported a lack of proper recognition or acknowledgement of their work. Hence, the survey provides important and substantial results to point towards in our interaction with universities, institutes and the policy makers.

The survey is being conducted with ethics approval from the University of Southampton (ERGO ethics application number: 65619). The first page of the survey tells you everything about the conduct of the survey, our approach to privacy and data protection, and your rights as a participant in the survey.