But first; notes from last week's workshop for research software engineers, an event for people who 'not only develop the software, they also understand the research that it makes possible'. The organisers did a great job with the structure (and provided clear instructions on running a breakout session) - each unconference-style session had to appoint a scribe and report back to a plenary session as well as posting their notes to the group's discussion list so there's an instant archive of the event.
- How do you manage quality and standards in training - how do you make sure people are doing their work properly, and what are the core competencies and practices of an RSE?
- How should the research community recognise the work of RSEs?
- Sharing Research Software
- Routes into research software development - why did you choose to be an RSE?
- Do we need a RSE community?
- and the closing report from the Steering Committee and group discussion on what an RSE community might be or do.
I'd written about the event before I went (in Beyond code monkeys: recognising technologists' intellectual contributions, which relates it to digital humanities and cultural heritage work) but until I was there I hadn't realised the extra challenges RSEs in science face - unlike museum technologists, science RSEs are deeply embedded in a huge variety of disciplines and can't easily swap between them.
The event was a great chance to meet people facing similar issues in their work and careers, and showed how incredibly useful the right label can be for building a community. If you work with science+software in the UK and want to help work out what a research software engineer community might be, join in the RSE discussion.
If you're reading this post, you might also be interested in:
- Paul Walk's 2011 posts on The Strategic Developer: How Local Developers Can Make A Difference and The Value of Local Developers raised many of the issues discussed at the RSE event and the DevCSI ('Developer Community Supporting Innovation') initiative. There's also a Developer Contact Google Group.
- On Ant-Lions and Scholar-Programmers by Doug Reside - the emphasis is on scholars rather than programmers and it's also interesting for the differences between academia in the US and UK (though it doesn't directly address them)
- Alan Liu's "Why I'm In It" x 2 – Antiphonal Response to Stephan Ramsay on Digital Humanities and Cultural Criticism and Stephen Ramsey's 'Why I'm In It' - if you haven't been keeping up with the digital humanities, dive into the deep end here.
- Michael Widner's Towards a Front Page for the Digital Humanities #dhthis, because it's one of many posts discussing DHThis and because I forget that not everyone lives and breaths this: 'software is a form of writing/making with its own assumptions and affordances, we have a responsibility to critique the software'
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