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October 04, 2021

Research Software Engineers in IDG

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This week two Senior Research Software Engineers (RSEs) Godwin Yeboah and James Tripp join the Information and Digital Group (IDG). This will be an unfamiliar role to many in IDG and the Faculty of Arts, so I am writing this post to share what you can expect.

The RSE movement has been 'a thing' in the UK since 2012 and a milestone reached in 2019 with the founding of the Society of RSEs. It’s formed of individuals and groups have coalesced around a variety of roles that as this mapping from a survey of 39 RSEs in March 2021, includes those who identify between software engineer and researcher whether they are embedded within research teams or central IT functions.

the RSE Landscape: A chart plotting Software Engineering to Research and Embedded to Central. It demonstrates the wide variety in the RSE community.

This community shares some key issues of recognition, career development as those who develop software upon which research relies, across the disciplines.

In a white paper written by the ‘DHTech Group’ in 2019 at the Digital Humanities global conference, those that identified as RSEs in the digital humanities summarised this for the Arts and Humanities as:

someone who understands the approaches and methods of the research domain and is able to conceptualize and implement the digital or computational part of a humanities research project

The skills and technologies these RSEs will be working with in research are varied; from investigating apps as media ecological artefacts to crowd-sourced digital editions using the Text Encoding Initiative. These will be particularly relevant for Arts and Humanities disciplines and they will contribute to the research activity of the Centre for Digital Inquiry established in 2020.

They will develop software and re-usable tools, contribute directly to research projects, constantly develop skills, promote good software engineering practice, equip and train others, and join the growing network of RSE roles across the University. These include the established Scientific Computing Research Technology Platform and Heather Turner, Statistics’ EPSRC Research Software Engineering Fellow along with other RSEs embedded in research groups.

Their placement in the information and digital group at this time of significant digital transformation for the University is of great benefit. They will increase the breadth of RSE input in the designing and evolving of IDG services, digital infrastructures and virtual research environments to support the software engineering demands of the University’s research community.

Watch this space as they get started and find out more about them.


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  • Thanks for this short blog by Dave on this entry

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