What is Research Software Engineering?

A growing number of people in academia combine expertise in programming with an intricate understanding of research. Although this combination of skills is extremely valuable, these people lack a formal place in the academic system. This means there is no easy way to recognise their contribution, to reward them, or to represent their views. Without a name, it was difficult for people to rally around a cause, so the term Research Software Engineer was created.

Regardless of their formal job title, Research Software Engineers are people who;

  • are employed to develop software for research,
  • tend to spend more time developing software than conducting research,
  • can be employed as a postdoctoral researcher, even though they predominantly work on software development,
  • are you the people who does computers in the research group,
  • are sometimes not named on research papers despite playing a fundamental part in developing the software used to create them, and
  • typically lack the metrics needed to progress their academic career, like papers and conference presentations, despite having made a significant contribution through software

If you identify with many of the above statements, then it is likely you are a Research Software Engineer (or RSE).

The Research Software Engineering Group at Bristol brings together RSEs from across the University. We work together with the national Society of Research Software Engineering to share best practice, lobby funders and universities to support sustainable RSE careers, and to network with each other.

Edit this page