Newsletter – February 2021

Please pass this newsletter on to any of your colleagues who might be interested

Welcome to the February 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
>Announcements
>Events
>Podcasts
>Talks
>Papers
>Blog posts
>Community info
>RSE Worldwide

Society Update

The trustees had our usual monthly meeting on the 3rd February 2021 and continue to work hard on various initiatives. Like last month, we provide updates from the trustees below to give you more detail on the types of things we are working on.

Trustee Updates

Paul Richmond, President: In the last trustee meeting the governance committee proposed a number of key items which were tabled to the Board for approval. Specially that we would adopt the charity governance code (information now on the website) and that trustees would adopt the seven principles of public life. After recently conducting an official governance review the governance group have set a 3 month target for improving governance processes for the society which will be reviewed again. Expect various items to be published by the Society in the coming months. This month has seen publication of a complaints and grievances policy. The code of  conduct has also been updated to set expectations about commercial engagement. 

Teri Forey, Secretary: Myself and the rest of the governance subgroup (Paul and Claire) have been working on more governance documents, including updating the risk register and setting up a table of delegation. These documents will help the Society continue to run smoothly and allow us to work with special interest and working groups in a clearly defined manner. I’ve also been working on the mini-workshop we’ll be running at CW21, and exploring how we can better define and support the diverse range of RSE jobs with the RSE Diversity subgroup.

Ian Cottam, Membership Team: I took part in a trustees’ working session on “Embedded and academic RSEs” this month. My view of this class of RSE is that they develop research software but typically have a different job title from RSE (one often without the word “software” in it). There are lots of other informal definitions. Six of the trustees were involved and collectively – with the aid of Google Docs – we drafted a substantial discussion paper on this topic in just 15 minutes (plus 45 minutes arguing about what we had written). Stay tuned to this newsletter series and the members’ website for details. Further, Society Trustee Teri Forey will lead a session on this area at the SSI’s Collaborations Workshop 2021.

Members’ benefits are progressing and we hope to make some announcements in the not too distant future. See also the Mentoring Programme below, as well as the Events Funding item.

We recently recorded the 400th paid-up member of the Society.

Marion Weinzierl, Communications Team, RSE Diversity working group: After our discussion session on academic and embedded RSEs, we decided to rename our working group “RSE Diversity”, as it turned out that there are more RSE types that we would like to turn our attention to. As my fellow trustees have described above, we made good progress in collecting views and ideas, and are in the process of creating some forms and documents (and our CW21 mini-workshop!) to collect the input from the RSE community. I was also given the login to the Society Twitter account this month (uh-oh….) and have increased my “communication load” as Communications and Publicity co-lead. In the Events and Initiatives working group we finalised the Society’s sponsorship policy.

Ania Brown, Mentoring working group lead: The mentoring subgroup have been shortlisting potential organisations to work with to implement the scheme, as well as continuing to plan the form it should take. To help us better understand the potential scope of the scheme, please fill out this very short form if you think you would be interested in participating as either a mentor or mentee. Thanks also to those who submitted recommendations for external companies to work with to design and manage the scheme. If you have any further recommendations for individuals or organisations, ideally who have worked with universities and charities before, please send them to [email protected].

Fouzhan Hosseini, EDI team & conference-event subgroup: This has been a busy month for EDI group which includes Mozhgan and me for the moment. We have been reviewing some of our existing procedures and policies including our code of conduct to first make sure we are following up to date EDI best practices and secondly address any existing gap. We have drafted a Code of Conduct for the board of trustees which is now going through our usual internal review process within the board. 

In addition, as the Conference & Events group, Mozhgan, Claire and I continued our planning for the annual RSE conference, we are still leaning toward a virtual conference to be held in September 2021. Meanwhile, if you have suggestions about the conference or requests for additional events, please do get in touch with us [email protected]

The Society of Research Software Engineering Strategy 2020/2021

Recently we conducted our first community feedback event, with 61 registered participants and 32 giving feedback in advance. This event was the first of many planned events which encourages members to ensure that their voice is heard within the society. As a result of this event the society has drawn up this strategy document to identify areas of importance which the society will aim to address. Our proposed strategy is based around three pillars which align with the Society’s aims:

  • Environment: Creating a research environment that recognises software and its contributors
  • Skills: Enhancing the provision of skills for researchers and the RSE community
  • People: Increasing awareness and opportunities for the role of RSEs

The full strategy can be found here.

The society aims to revise and release a strategy each year following the appointment of new trustees.

Mentoring Programme

As mentioned by Society trustee Ania Brown above, the Society is developing a mentoring scheme to facilitate additional community support for RSEs. Help us plan by registering your potential interest as a mentor and/or mentee in this very short survey.

Society Events and Initiatives Funding Policy

The RSE Society is able to provide financial support for events and initiatives which support our mission statement and charitable objectives (see our constitution section). These are summarized below.

Society’s Charitable Mission Statement: “Our mission is to establish a research environment that recognises the vital role of software in research. We work to increase software skills across everyone in research, to promote collaboration between researchers and software experts, and to support the creation of an academic career path for Research Software Engineers.

The objectives of the RSE Society are:

  • To advance education particularly but not exclusively amongst research software engineers; and/or 
  • To promote and advance research particularly but not exclusively in all aspects of research that rely on software engineering and to publish the useful results.

See our strategy for 2020/2021 for further details about our planned activities to support these objectives.

Read the full SocRSE Events and Initiatives Sponsorship Policy here. 

The 7 Principles of Public Life

In their last Trustee Meeting, the Board have agreed that they will strive to fulfil their trustee role according to the 7 principles of public life. These are aimed at persons holding a public office, but the trustees felt that they are a good guideline for their work for the Society and the RSE community.

Code for Thought Podcast

We recommend listening to a brand new podcast “Code for Thought”, on “software, engineering, research and anything in between”, but then we would wouldn’t we? Considering that the Society is supporting Peter Schmidt, the creator of this new podcast, with a small grant. The first guests are the Society’s Vice President and RSE Community Manager Claire Wyatt and Prof. Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director from the SSI giving some background to the RSE movement. The second episode is about the future of the RSE Fellowship programme with Richard Gunn and Sarah King from the EPSRC. The third episode is on Making African Science Visible, discussing Open Research and Open Access with the people behind the AfricarXiV preprint platform. Find the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google and others. Happy Listening!

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 ([email protected]), which has now closed. New members of both the Society and the mailing list are always welcome!

We currently have exactly 400 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.

Announcements

Viewpoint: Research’s ‘lone genius’ image is unhelpful – The new UKRI chief executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser has written an opinion piece, ending with the following paragraph: “Looking for 101 different jobs in research and innovation. – To get the ball rolling, I am delighted to be collaborating with the Minister for Science Research and Innovation, Amanda Solloway, to find 101 people, doing 101 different jobs that make major contributions to research and innovation, but who are not researchers and innovators. If you are one such person, or work with one and would like to participate in this project please email your suggestion to [email protected]. I am also keen to hear about other ideas and initiatives that could support a more inclusive definition of the research and innovation system.”

JOSS’s Commitment to the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure –The Journal of Open Source Software announces its commitment to the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure, following Dryad, Crossref, and others. Find out all the details about what, why, how and their work in progress 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 lightning talks during the Software Sustainability Institute’s Collaborations Workshop 2021 (CW21) is open until
Sunday, 7 March 2021. A lightning talk gives you two minutes and one slide to discuss a subject. Lightning talks are the perfect way to introduce yourself, your work, an organisation or a project at the workshop.

The Society is organising a mini-workshop on “The RSE landscape: Central, service, embedded, academic – what is your RSE type, and how do you want to develop it?”. We hope to see you there!

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.

A Series of Online Research Software Events is coming to an end! After more than half a year, the final submission deadline of the rolling call for contributions has passed, and the last round of events has been scheduled for March. Check our programme to make sure you don’t miss our final talks and workshops! SORSE will end with a big final event in the week starting 22 March 2021, so watch this space.

The #SORSE YouTube channel has all the recordings, so if you’ve missed any of our sessions so far, check it out

Just recently, The Manchester Research IT blog documented the Q&A that their Mobile Development Service team contributed to.

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 14 December 2020. 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. Note that, in response to the latest UK lockdown, the Hidden REF submission deadline has been extended to 14 May 2021.

Launch of UK Carpentry Community Calls – The Software Sustainability Institute is launching UK Carpentry Community Calls.

Events

GPU Hackathons in Europe 2021

The GPU Hackathon program is designed to help scientists, researchers and developers to accelerate and optimize their applications on GPUs. The hackathons are four day intensive hands-on events designed to help computational scientists port their applications to GPUs using libraries, OpenACC, CUDA and other tools by pairing participants with dedicated mentors experienced in GPU programming and development. 

Domain scientists are paired with experienced GPU mentors to learn the critical accelerated and parallel computing skills needed by the scientific community.

Today, more than 1800 domain experts from premier universities, research centres, and high performance computing centers around the world have been trained and over 400 scientific applications have been ported in part or completely to GPUs.

Throughout this year there will be multiple GPU Hackathons taking place in Europe. Don’t miss your chance to attend one these GPU Hackathons and work with experts to get the latest updates on programming models, best practices and tools for using and optimizing your codes on GPU.

Site Dates Submission Deadline
EPCC April 19,26-28 March 5th
IDRIS May 17,25-27 March 17th
CINECA June 14,21-23 April 14th
CSCS Sep 20,28-30 July 13th
ENCCS Dec 7,14-16 Oct 6th

The full schedule is available at www.gpuhackathons.org/events

February

The Software Sustainability Institute runs free online Research Software Camps twice a year over the course of two weeks. Each Camp will focus on introducing and exploring a topic around research software and thus kickstart discussions among various research communities. The first online Research Software Camp on Research Accessibility will take place from 22 February to 5 March 2021.

March

HER+Data MCR (“Her plus Data Manchester”) is a community working to connect, inspire, support and empower the NW UK’s Women in Data! We meet on the 2nd Thursday of each month.

Free RIOT Science Club conference on Open Research: A vision for the future, March 2. (RIOT Science = Reproducible, Interpretable, Open, & Transparent Science). There are also weekly RIOT Science seminars every, well, week…!

rOpenSci are hosting the first in a series of community calls on their statistical software review project Tuesday 2 March at 17:00 UTC. All are welcome at the call with no need to register, get the link here.

Upcoming OSG All-Hands Meeting, March 1–5 – Register now for the online All-Hands Meeting 2021, March 1–5, offered by the Open Science Grid. Everyone is invited to attend. Registration is free but required, so please take a minute to register now.

BioScience Coffee Morning: Into bioscience and machine learning? The next coffee morning meet-up will be on the 12th March 2021.

It’s time to build a better research culture – one that is creative, inclusive and honest. Our free online festival will bring together the research community to take action and help reimagine research. Reimagine Research Culture Festival, March 22-26.

Interested in developing a sustainability strategy for your science gateway? The next “Jumpstart Your Sustainability Plan” mini-course will be offered online Monday through Wednesday, March 1-3, 2021, and is FREE and open to all.

UCL RITS, DiRAC & Nvidia Bootcamp – UCL RITS, DiRAC & Nvidia are hosting a free AI Bootcamp on 29-30 March 2021. This is an opportunity to develop skills in GPU accelerated Deep Learning in a hands-on, supportive environment.  The only prerequisites are basic Python, a familiarity with Jupyter notebooks and a desire to learn.  No previous GPU programming or Machine Learning experience required.  Spaces are limited and the deadline for applications is 15 March 2021.  Find out more here. Contact [email protected] if you have any questions.

N8 CIR have a couple of upcoming events that researchers and RSEs may be interested in. Book here.

April

Registration is now open for two linked events in the world of data curation: the 16th International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC21) and the 17th Plenary of the Research Data Alliance, taking place during the week beginning Monday 19th April 2021. Registration for either event also allows you to attend a joint unconference which will bridge the interests of the two communities. All events will be taking place online only. You can register to attend the Plenary (including the joint RDA/IDCC
Unconference) at https://rdavp17.eventbrite.co.uk . Early bird rates will be available until 2nd of April 2021. (edited) 

June

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.

Podcasts

New episodes of the Code for Thought podcast:

  • Making African Science Visible – It’s publish or perish for researchers and scientists. In addition to that, many researchers and scientists from African countries struggle to get their work published and recognised. The team around AfricarXiV work hard to address that.

New episodes of the RSE Stories podcast:

  • Working with you rather than for you – Paul Richmond has stepped up to be the new president of the Society for Research Software Engineering in the UK. After years of masquerading as a researcher he was finally able to move into a role as RSE.
  • Sustaining People – Dan Katz is well-known in the research software engineering world for his leadership, and consistent work on policy and community.
  • The Shop – Research Software Engineers work with hardware too, and we should grow community around it. In this episode, we talk with Blaise Thompson, an instrumental technologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Blaise shares with us the value of building instruments for research, and that now is the time to rethink and revamp these institutional shops to better serve the research community

Talks

 Chris Hartgerink – “The Social Model of Inaccessibility

Papers

Position paper “An environment for sustainable research software in Germany and beyond: current state, open challenges, and call for action

Blog Posts

Community info

Winners of the SSI call for developing training material for data science announced

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 for 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 world with new national groups 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 them on various initiatives (papers, international workshops).

In January 2021, the International Council of RSE Associations was founded as a forum to communicate and formally meet to ensure cohesion between associations and to provide a platform for open discussion around international issues and affairs.

(In alphabetical order)

AU/NZ RSE Group

Belgium Research Software Engineers Community

Join the (informal) chats of the Belgium Research Software Engineers community on https://gitter.im/be-rse/

CANARIE

de-RSE

Dates for the joined monthly calls of the Open Science und Research Software Engineering communities can be found here.

NL 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).

US RSE

The US RSE February newsletter is out!

New US RSE events and training are scheduled.

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

About the author: mweinzierl