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Newsletter – December 2020

Welcome to the December newsletter from The Society of Research Software Engineering! Our monthly newsletter will announce new Society initiatives, gather RSE news, events, blogs, papers and anything else interesting and relevant together in one place. If you would like to add an item or suggest a new section to the next newsletter, submit it via this short form or get in touch with Claire Wyatt, RSE Community Manager.

Newsletter Contents:
>Society Update
>Blog posts
>Community info
>RSE Worldwide

Society Update

Membership and Mailing list

Thanks and welcome to all who have joined the Society in the last month; and, similarly, for those who have moved their mailing list entry over to the Society membership/mailing list from the old mailing list (everyone@rse..), which has closed now. New members of both the Society and the mailing list are always welcome!

Membership to the Society

We currently have 378 paid-up members with several thousand people forming the online community on the RSE Slack space.  Sign up for membership! There are three options for payment: credit card, debit card or direct debit.

Currently the members benefits are:

  • Support the work of the Society to further research software engineering
  • Eligible to apply for any future opportunities for Society funding
  • Opportunity for early registration to the Society annual conference
  • Opportunity for early registration to any future Society’s professional and networking events
  • Eligible to vote in Society decisions such as electing trustees or changing the constitution
  • Eligible to stand for election as a trustee
  • Eligible to be a volunteer or be nominated for working groups or committees that the trustees may establish

RSE Slack space and channels

There are 120 public slack channels in the RSE space that you can join so feel free to explore by clicking on the +  on the left hand side, next to ‘Channels’ and then ‘Browse Channels’. If you joined the slack space recently, you were automatically added to these channels:- #general, #random, #introductions– where we can all get to know each other more and hear about you and your work,  #jobs – where you can post and see new vacancies and #events– to read and post about any relevant interesting events, and the #training channel.  If you’ve been here a while you might not be in those channels so use the + to join them and browse all the other channels available. We’d like to encourage everyone to introduce themselves in the #introductions channel…Connect to the RSE Community by joining the RSE Slack https://society-rse.org/about/contact/

RSE Group Leaders Meetings – going online

If you’d like to host/chair the next RSE group leaders meeting in the Spring, get in touch with Claire.  The Society supports meetings for RSE Leaders, which are normally in person twice a year but now that we are all online, we are trialling a move to having more frequent meetings. Both the private slack channel and the meetings are for leaders to share and discuss best practice confidentially.  No matter how small or large the group, the challenges are usually quite similar so this leaders network discusses on slack and meets in person (now online) the solutions that work, present interesting projects, share best practice etc. The meetings are informal with no note taking and all conversations are strictly confidential.  If you’d like to join the leaders slack channel and/or attend the next meeting, please get in touch with Claire Wyatt. There is also a mailing list but this is mostly used to fix the meetings. Discussions are held on slack so as not to clutter inboxes.

Keep up to date – You can keep up to date with trustee meetings as we have shared a summary of Society monthly trustee meetings including the decision log.

RSE Vacancies – You can post an RSE role or a role supporting RSEs to the vacancy page on the Society website via a form.


Lightning Talk event 20th January – 3pm UTC/GMTSORSE
We are seeking submissions for a dedicated lightning session. Participants will be given the opportunity to present a 1-2 minute lightning talk followed by informal discussions. Each talk should be supported by either a poster or a blog post. Submit your lightning talk idea here under the “Lightning Talk with Poster/Blog Post” contribution type and more information here. Deadline for abstract submissions is 9am UTC/GMT on the 11th January.

The Data Standards Authority wants your feedback on whether government should add Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to the data and documents it publishes. You can give feedback directly on their Open Standards GitHub page until the end of December 2020. They will use your feedback to decide whether to develop a formal proposal to take before the Open Standards Board for consideration.

A “journal” club about Data Science and Ethics is being launched in the new year by Natalie Thurlby, a Data Scientist based at Bristol. The first meeting will be Wednesday 20th January 2021 (1-2pm GMT). Sign up to the mailing list and check out the reading list (and make suggestions for it) and other bits and bobs here

Collaborations Workshop 2021 (CW21) will take place online from Tuesday, 30 March to Thursday, 1 April 2021 and registration is now open!  The Software Sustainability Institute’s Collaborations Workshop series brings together researchers, developers, innovators, managers, funders, publishers, policy makers, leaders and educators to explore best practices and the future of research software. The themes of the CW21 keynote presentations, discussion groups, mini-workshops, collaborative ideas, and hack day will be around the following areas of research software: FAIR Research Software, Diversity & Inclusion and Software Sustainability.  To find out more information, see the agenda and view the call for submissions, please visit the CW21 website.

The call for mini-workshops and demonstrations for CW21 is open. Mini-workshops and demo sessions will give an in-depth look at a particular tool or approach related to the CW21 themes and a chance to query developers and experts about how this might apply to participants’ areas of work.

Financial assistance is available for CW21. Examples of what can be supported include the cost of registration, reliable internet/data usage, a good quality headset (for example, if you are working in a shared space), and/or childminding/carer costs.

Participants are invited for this survey by the Software and Model Development Focus Areas (FA) of the EMMC ASBL. Your input, assessment and feedback on the themes, issues and open questions within the survey are valuable.  They will be used to target and support specific themes and topics of importance to you by organising FA task forces and webinars as well as provide updates to the EMMC Roadmap (produced for EC Research and Innovation). The survey will close on 10 January 2021.  The main results will be published online by the end of January 2021 and presented at FAs web-meetings soon after. To learn more about EMMC and browse their Focus Areas and white papers, please visit https://emmc.eu/ .  Membership (associate is free) with EMMC ASBL will enable invites to series of webinars within their FAs as well as on relevant EC funded projects.

A Series of Online Research Software Events – pronounced ‘source’ is an international answer to the COVID-19-induced cancellation of many national RSE conferences. An international committee has provided an opportunity for RSEs to develop and grow their skills, build new collaborations and engage with RSEs worldwide. This is an open call to all RSEs and anyone involved with research software worldwide, to propose a talk, a workshop, a software demo, a panel or discussion, blog post or poster. After each event, SORSE will provide an opportunity for networking and informal discussion with other participants in small groups. Our programme is looking great with all sorts of events filling January and February already. The Call for Contributions form will remain open continuously and there will be a rolling deadline at the end of the last day (UTC) of each month following which all contributions received over the previous month will be sent for review by the Programme Committee.

Applications for SSI Fellowship are now open: The deadline is 23:59 GMT on Friday 5 February 2021. There will be a Fellows 2021 Launch Webinar on Thursday 14 January 2021. The Software Sustainbility Institute’s Fellowship Programme provides funding for researchers who want to improve how research software is used in their domains and/or area of work. Each Fellow is given £3,000 to spend over fifteen months. This funding can be used for any activities that meet both the Fellow’s and the Institute’s goals, such as travel to workshops, running training events such as software carpentry, data carpentry or library carpentry, nurturing or contributing to communities of practice, collaborating with other Fellows, or for any other activities that relate to computational practice or policy. In light of the ongoing situation around COVID-19, we encourage applicants to consider that travel and in-person events may not always be feasible, and we particularly welcome plans with online-based activities. The main goals of the programme are to improve computational practice and to promote this improvement across all disciplines. We encourage our Fellows to use software sustainability practices themselves and to be ambassadors of good practice in their own domains. Our Fellows have come from a wide variety of backgrounds, experience and career stages. What they have in common is a passion for their area, the ability to communicate their ideas effectively, and a real interest in the role of software in research.

Want to know how to organise an event, online or face-to-face? Read the new guide produced by the experts at the SSI.

Celebrating all research outputs! The hidden REF is a competition that recognises all research outputs and every role that makes research possible. Enter the competition!
The committee has crowd-sourced submission categories to construct a broad set of categories that they hope will recognise everyone who contributes to the success of research. Submissions opened on 14th December 2020 and will close on 26th February 2021. They will be reviewed by panels drawn from across the research community and winners will be announced in April 2021. If you would like to enter your work, or nominate a person who has been vital to your research, please complete a submission! The more submissions it receives, the more evidence we have to campaign for broadening the research community’s definition of what it means to contribute to research. Find out more about the hidden REF. Q&A – unpacking the secrets of the hidden REF

Survey on Towards FAIR principles for research software: The goal of this questionnaire is to assess the “FAIR for software” principles as rewritten in the paper Towards FAIR principles for research software.

The call for papers of our 1st International Workshop on the Body of Knowledge for Software Sustainability (BoKSS’21 – @ICSEconf) is now open.

Applications are invited for the OpenScience mentoring and training programme. OLS is a 16-week mentoring and training programme that upskills individuals in open and reproducible research and empowers them to become open science ambassadors in their communities.

The IASGE project has published their behavioural dataset which is the result of a multi-method study featuring focus groups, interviews and surveys to find out how the research community uses Git.



Register your interest for the SSI’s Research Software Camp on Research Accessibility.

TQ Codes TechSocial: Putting the R into Reproducible Research


Lightning Talk event 20th January – 3pm UTC/GMTSORSE
We are seeking submissions for a dedicated lightning session. Participants will be given the opportunity to present a 1-2 minute lightning talk followed by informal discussions. Each talk should be supported by either a poster or a blog post. Submit your lightning talk idea here under the “Lightning Talk with Poster/Blog Post” contribution type and more information here. Deadline for abstract submissions is 9am UTC/GMT on the 11th January.

2021 Code Performance Series: From analysis to insight – 21st January
Performance analysis is at the core of the development of exascale software – to understand why software performs (or not) is the basis of any informed improvement of the code. This is an ExCALIBUR Knowledge Integration Activity in collaboration with the VI-HPS, Durham University’s Department of Computer Science, DiRAC and the N8 Centre of Excellence in Computationally Intensive Research (N8 CIR).  The workshop will consist of seven days, spread over the first seven months of 2021. The first half of each day will be a tutorial session, followed by a hands-on session in the afternoon. Participants can choose to only take part in the morning sessions.  Registration, dates and more information can be found at this website.  Contact: [email protected]

There are still places available at the following ARCHER2 courses in January:

  • ARCHER2 for software package users, 12 January 2021
  • Introduction to ARCHER2 for software developers, 14-15 January 2021
  • Software Carpentry, 18-21 January 2021
  • Understanding Package Performance, 25th January 2021
  • Performance Optimisation on AMD EPYC, 28-29 January 2021


FOSDEM HPC, Big Data, and Data Science Devroom


If you work at the interface of software engineering and computational science, consider submitting a paper to the next International Workshop on Software Engineering for Computational Science, which will take place as part of the International Conference on Computational Science (ICCS), 16-18 June, 2021. 

The deadline for submissions will continuously be aligned with the deadlines of the main conference, currently we expect a due date in late January.


Top 10 podcasts on software and Open Research by SSI Fellows Patricia Herterich and Sarah Gibson

Three new episodes of the RSE Stories podcast:

  • An interview with former Society Trustee Robert Haines from the University of Manchester on how the RSE movement came into being.
  • Let’s put RSEs on Equal Footing with academics and professionals and get them recognised and formal roles, says Nooriyah Lohani from NESI in New Zealand.
  • All things R with Maëlle Salmon


LunchBytes is a new monthly series of short talks for those in the research community at TUOS who work with/write code, use/manage research data and use/manage research infrastructure. We hope through these talks we will come together as a community to discuss best practices and useful methods/tools. This month’s recorded set of talks was on Accelerated Machine Learning.


The four pillars of Research Software Engineering now published– also available on arxiv

Blog Posts

Could coaching contribute to more sustainable software?

A researcher’s perspective on working with the Software Sustainability Institute.

Digital Humanities RSE Survey Discussion – Part 1.

Reproducible Data Analysis Resources

Being a Digital Humanist in 2020

Ten arguments against Open Science that you can win

Rust, Python and Fish

Community info

Reminding you about..

RSEs in the UK now have the opportunity to apply for the new Open Plus Fellowships that are funded by EPSRC. The Open refers to the fellowship being open to all who work in academia e.g. RSE and technicians while the Plus refers to being able to use some of your time for community activities. The RSE Fellowships will still continue but in time will migrate to these.

UKRI are building a new funding service that will eventually replace the existing Je-S system. If you have any experience of applying for funding, or are likely to apply for or assess funding in the future you can join the effort to help design the service in a way that will meet your needs. If you would like to input into the design of the new service please provide your details here

The DiversIT Charter is CEPIS’ flagship initiative aimed at reducing gender disparity in IT roles. It is a roadmap which moves through three levels of attainment: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each level has a focus on attraction and retention, asking applicants to showcase their initiatives and policies for increasing gender diversity in ICT professions.

REF Real Time Review: Survey to assess views of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) among researchers – UKRI has commissioned RAND Europe to conduct a real-time evaluation of REF 2021 on behalf of the four UK funding bodies. The study aims to assess attitudes, perspectives and behaviours towards the REF 2021 across the sector, and explore how REF policies and changes are embedded in the way submissions are prepared and delivered. As part of this study, they are conducting a survey of research staff across UK higher education institutions. They hope you will be happy to support the study, and contribute to the evidence base that will help assess REF policy and inform its development in the future.

A new ‘Resources‘ database has been set up on the Society website which will hold the links to all the static useful items that have featured here under Community info. Help us to fill the resources database by submitting an item to the database.

Research Software Hour…Hosted by members of the Nordic-RSE community, this continues weekly on Twitch. Research Software Hour is an online stream/show about scientific computing and research software. It is designed to provide the skills typically picked up via informal networks: each week, they do some combination of exploring new tools, analyzing and improving someone’s research code, and discussion. Watchers can take part and contribute code to us which they analyze and discuss on stream. They broadcast on Twitch Thursdays at 20:30 Oslo time / 21:30 Helsinki time.

Imperial College Newsletter…The Imperial College RSE Team have been producing a newsletter for a while now to their institute community. They include a ‘Research Software of the month’, links to blog posts and dates for your diary.

Better Scientific Software – a blog with relevant articles.

Microsoft Research Technology Professionals Community Launch

RSE Worldwide

Awareness of the RSE role and the RSE community is growing around the worldwide with new national groups are being created all the time. In this section, we introduce these groups and raise awareness of their success. The Society supports new groups and collaborates with representatives from these groups on various initiatives (papers, international workshops). (In alphabetial order).


Belgium Research Software Engineers Community

With almost 100 participants from a variety of research institutes and universities from Belgium, Europe and beyond, the recently formed BE-RSE community hosted a successful ‘Research Software Developers Day’ on the 3rd December 2020.  As the first conference ran online, they’re happy to keep sharing the presentations with everyone via their website.  You can look back on a wonderful first edition of their Research Software Developers Day conference with the program and recordings of the presentations on their website be-rse.org/rsdd2020


CANARIE is the organising body for the RSE movement in Canada.

de RSE


New meet-ups are scheduled for NL RSE. Interested in proposing a workshop, talk, or some other contribution? Get in touch!

Nordic RSE

The Nordic-RSE conference will (hopefully) be held 27-28 May 2021 in Stockholm. Of course, this is subject to the global situation at that time. The conference will be modeled on other global RSE conferences (for example, see the schedule of RSEConUK 2019).


The group recently released their governance document. Also, don’t miss this – the US RSE group have released a summary ‘A year of Progress for US-RSE‘ and it’s a great read! Read about the US RSE group in their newsletter here.

Collect your gold star here if you’ve read all the way to the end!

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