The Research Software Engineer

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Citation: Robert Baxter, Neil Chue Hong, Dirk Gorissen, James Hetherington, Ilian Todorov (2012/10/9) The Research Software Engineer. Digital Research (RSS)
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): The Research Software Engineer
Tagged: Computer Science (RSS) research software engineering (RSS)


Unlike technicians, research software engineering requires knowledge of the scientific literature as well as programming methods. Some are more focused on research while others are more focused on providing infrastructure for research. This role requires intense training and probably a PhD. A career progression does not currently exist, comparable to the alternatives in pure industry and pure academia. Funding is not currently oriented towards software, but rather individual research projects. Current salaries are far below alternative industry positions. Those projects may use software to their own end, but there is little incentive to write software such that it is usable after/outside the project. There is some positive motion; many universities have computational science degrees, training courses for researchers, and institutes that specialize in research software engineering.

Recommendations: REF panels should weigh software as a research output, institutions and funders should spend on engineering, and researchers should be exposed to best practices.