Next Steps for NZ’s Research Software Engineer (RSE) Community


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NeSI had a wonderful turnout at the Research Software Engineering (RSE) Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) session at eResearch 2019. Hosted by Nooriyah Lohani, NeSI's Research Communities Advisor, attendees included RSEs, people leading a team of RSEs, and researchers with an RSE in their research group.

The BoF kicked off with an introduction of the attendees and a discussion of why they relate to RSE community. Their responses included:

  • Build and advocate for the RSE community
  • Community seems very open and welcoming – it sounds very accessible and inclusive
  • Rapidly developing – always new stuff happening
  • I want to do the work and not write publications
  • RSEs don’t get to talk shop often. The only option is domain specific conferences
  • Learn stuff/science when developing
  • The idea of building community and bringing together like-minded people
  • Developing code for research/scientific application
  • To learn from other people’s experiences
  • Software Interface Science – Bridge gap between science and software
  • Have a community to be involved with and learn from
  • We write code that gets results for papers
  • Better opportunities, career progression through job advancement/transfer
  • Want to connect with a group of RSEs doing same stuff, facing the same problems
  • Sharing best practice and experience
  • Defining the role of RSEs better
  • Clarifying career paths to attract new RSEs
  • Standardized role good for career pathway
  • Everything today seems to revolve around data & code – want to stay abreast to the trends and approaches
  • Being part of this community

If you can relate with any of these as part of your role, visit our website https://rse-aunz.github.io to learn more about the RSE community we’re building in New Zealand.

Looking ahead to the coming year, the BoF discussed what we would like to achieve as a community. The main points brought up included:

  • Having a community with a sense of belonging
  • Career progression for RSEs
  • Identifying a metric that to measure success for researchers
  • Advocacy of RSE as a career
  • Introducing best practices for research software

The BoF participants also wanted more open communication within the community and we unanimously agreed on the following two action points as a focus for 2019:

  • A New Zealand-specific RSE Slack channel
  • A quarterly tech talk type event in to provide RSEs with a forum for giving talks on and discussing topics ranging from human resources best practices to more technical topics

Lastly, we acknowledged the growing momentum this community is building and there was support around the table to keep things going! We agreed that a successful 2019 would see an open channel of communication created, a larger turnout at next year’s RSE BoF at eResearch NZ 2020 (Dunedin, dates TBC), and at least two events hosted that provide RSEs a forum to network and share their experiences.

Thank you to everyone who attended  this year’s BoF. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how you can get involved in New Zealand’s RSE community, email Nooriyah Lohani (nooriyah.lohani@nesi.org.nz).

RSE BoF at eResearch NZ 2019
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New Zealand RSE Community members gathered at eResearch NZ 2019.
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