View on GitHub


Website and repository for SC17 BoF on Software Engineers: Careers in Research (view at

SC17 Birds of a Feather - Software Engineers: Careers in Research

Tuesday, November 14th, 12:15pm - 1:15pm, Room 603

This website is

SC17 Session Page

Sign up to our mailing list to be notified of reports, outcomes and future events

Collaborative Notes


Goals of session

Many people in research organizations around the world combine expertise in programming with an intricate understanding of research. Although this combination of skills is extremely valuable, these people often lack a formal career path, particularly in the academic system. There is no easy way to recognise their contributions, reward them, or represent their views.

In the UK (and increasingly in Europe), the term Research Software Engineer is often used to describe this important role, while the US does not have a single term. However many alternative job titles exist in this space including: software developer, software specialist, staff programmer, research facilitator, research concierge, cyberinfrastructure concierge, catalyst, applications support engineering, applications support, and of course research associate and postdoc.

This BoF aims to raise awareness of this family of roles and bring the community together to address challenges the recognition of the importance of these roles.

The aims of this session are:

The input from this session will be published in a report co-authored by the group.

Discussion Topics

We will split into five groups, each with a facilitator, to discuss the following topics:

  1. Career paths: how do RSEs want to be hired, promoted and evaluated? (Facilitator: Lauren Michael, Link to Notes)
  2. Research software engineers organization: what can be done to help RSEs (and those supporting RSEs) at international, national, regional, and local levels? (Facilitator: Catherine Jones, Link to Notes)
  3. Making the case for RSEs and RSE groups: business cases, evidence, case studies, tactics? (Facilitator: Neil Chue Hong, Link to Notes)
  4. How do we want funders to support RSE roles and activities? (Facilitator: Daniel S. Katz, Link to Notes)
  5. Building in RSE requirements as part of wider research infrastructure (eg new computing infrastructure, computational research projects, future capability planning) (Facilitator: Andy Turner, Link to Notes)

Each group should consider the topic, aiming to answer the following questions:

The facilitator will take notes in the appropriate Google Doc, finishing by asking the group to agree the two or three most important things to be done, and who needs to do them.

As the time for discussion is limited, we suggest the following schedule:

In the wrap-up session, each facilitator will report each group’s important things.

Events at SC17

Related Links:

Session leaders

This Birds of a Feather session was organized by:

Code of Conduct

All participants are reminded that their involvement in this session is covered by the SC17 Code of Conduct.