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Why Science Needs More Research Software Engineers

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Research software engineer Paul Richmond.

I want to see RSEs as equals in the academic environment. Software runs through the entire research process, but professors tend to get most of the recognition.

Credit: Shelley Richmond.

In March 2012, a group of like-minded software developers gathered at the University of Oxford, U.K., for what they called the Collaborations Workshop. They had a common vocation—building code to support scientific research—but different job titles. And they had no clear career path. The attendees coined a term to describe their line of work: research software engineer (RSE).

A decade later, RSE societies have sprung up in the U.K., mainland Europe, Australia, and the U.S. Paul Richmond, an RSE group leader at the University of Sheffield believes this is a sign of the profession's growing importance. In an interview, Richmond discusses life as an RSE, the role of software in the research enterprise, and the state of the field as it reaches its tenth anniversary.

From Nature
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