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RSE International Survey

The Research Software Engineering (RSE) International Survey is a survey conducted by the Software Sustainability Institute that comprises 8 countries and covers all aspects of the practice of research software engineering.

We ran the first survey in 2016, which provided an insight into the demographics, job satisfaction, and practices of research software engineers (RSEs). To support and broaden this work, the institute will conduct the survey at regular intervals, and extend the geographical coverage, which will facilitate inter-country comparison. The results of the surveys, the anonymised version of which is under a open license, will act as a a valuable resource to understand and improve the working conditions for RSEs.

In 2017 we also surveyed Canadian RSEs and we added four further countries, Germany, Netherlands, South Africa and USA. Our thanks to our partners: Scott Henwood (Canada), Stephan Janosch and Martin Hammitzsch (Germany), Ben van Werkhoven and Tom Bakker (Netherlands), Anelda van der Walt (South Africa) and Daniel Katz and Sandra Gesing (USA).

In 2018 we have worked differently and created a survey for all countries (rather than one survey for each one).

This site covers the 2018 survey.

Composition of the survey

The base questions for the survey were tailored to meet the requirements of each country. They covered ten subjects:

  1. Demographics: traditional social and economic questions, such as gender, age, salary and education.
  2. Coding: how much code do RSEs write, how often, and for whom.
  3. Employment: questions about where RSEs work and in which disciplines.
  4. Current contract: understanding stability of employment by questioning the type of employment contract RSEs receive.
  5. Previous employment: understanding routes into the profession the reasons for choosing it.
  6. Collaboration and training: who RSEs work with, how many people they work with, and the training they conduct.
  7. Publications: do RSEs contribute to publications and are they acknowledged?
  8. Sustainability and tools: testing, bus factor, technical handover. Also which tools they are using
  9. Job satisfaction: what do RSEs think about their job and their career?
  10. Network: how do RSEs meet and gain representation? These subjects are not necessarily investigated under this order, neither published with that order.


Here is a list of contributors for the 2017/2018 version of the survey (alphabetic order). They are also mentioned in the .zenodo.json to be automatically added to the DOI.

  • Stephan Druskat
  • Sandra Gesing
  • Martin Hammitzsch
  • Scott Henwood
  • Simon Hettrick
  • Stephan Janosch
  • Katrin Leinweber
  • Olivier Philippe
  • Nooriyah P. Lohani
  • Nicholas R. May
  • Manodeep Sinha
  • Daniel S. Katz
  • Anelda van der Walt
  • Ben van Werkhoven


This repository contains code and public data. We have different licence for each

The repository is also archived on zenodo: If you want to cite this work and need a citation in a specific format, you can use the citation service on the zenodo.


To reproduce the analysis on your computer, first clone the repository:

git clone
cd international-survey-analysis
python -m venv venv  # use python3 if your default python is still Python 2
source venv/bin/activate
python -m pip install -r requirements.txt

Then change to the year you wish to reproduce: cd 2018. First, the overview and sampling file needs to be run which does some initial processing for the other sections:


This should create a cache/processed_data.csv file. Once this is generated, you can run any of the sections in any order:

python <section>.py

or generate all the sections

sh ../

This utilises the template file found in analysis/templates corresponding to the section. The template file uses the Mustache templating languages via the chevron module.


The citation for the 2018 version is:

Olivier Philippe, Martin Hammitzsch, Stephan Janosch, Anelda van der Walt, Ben van Werkhoven, Simon Hettrick, … Manodeep Sinha. (2019, March 6). softwaresaved/international-survey: Public release for 2018 results (Version 2018-v.1.0.2). Zenodo.

The citation for the 2017 version is:

Olivier Philippe, Martin Hammitzsch, Stephan Janosch, Anelda van der Walt, Ben van Werkhoven, Simon Hettrick, … Scott Henwood. (2018, March 27). softwaresaved/international-survey: Public release for 2017 results (Version 2017-v1.2). Zenodo.


The Software Sustainability Institute is supported by EPSRC grant EP/H043160/1 and EPSRC/ESRC/BBSRC grant EP/N006410/1, with additional project funding from Jisc and NERC. Collaboration between the universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Oxford and Southampton.