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RSECon2020 Cancellation Announcement

The Trustees of the Society of Research Software Engineering and the Conference Steering Group have taken the very difficult decision to cancel the annual RSE Conference for 2020.  We know that this conference is a fantastic social, networking and skills training event for the RSE community worldwide so we’d like to reassure everyone that early planning has already begun for the RSE Conference in 2021. 

Even though the conference was planned for September when we hope that life will be somewhat back to normal, there are several reasons why we need to take this decision in March. As a small charity, the conference forms a very large part of our financial turnover and cancelling later would leave us liable for substantial financial penalties. The financial risk from taking on these liabilities is too large for the trustees to approve and meet our obligation to run the Society in a financially responsible way so that it continues to support and champion the RSE role and career for many years to come. In the current circumstances people would also find it hard to commit to presentation proposals, ticket purchases and sponsorship which would all need to happen during the projected ‘peak’ of the current pandemic in the UK. 

We have considered very carefully whether to take the conference online but have decided not to proceed this year for several reasons.  We believe that remoulding the in-person event to a digital event wouldn’t give the same reward but would take a considerable amount of effort. The conference committee members need to focus on their core RSE, teaching, research and infrastructure roles in their institutions and, as life gets more complicated with school closures, elderly family members to care for and our normal work to deliver in more difficult circumstances, it’s not right for us to ask for this extra time.  Therefore, the effort needed to deliver a digital conference of the calibre you expect from us is simply not available. 

We know that this announcement will be a disappointment to many however we are actively exploring new ideas and working with other national RSE Groups in the hope of organising some smaller online events for the coming months. The Conference Committee welcomes suggestions about the type of online events you’d like to see over the coming months.

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