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Vive la differénce - research software engineers

Lorentz workshop
Lorentz workshop

Would you like to join a conversation on how research software engineering could be reframed to place diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as a central organising principle? ReSA is calling for expressions of interest in joining a workshop entitled “Vive la differénce - research software engineers”. This will be a hybrid event with an in-person element from 19-22 April 2022 at the Lorentz Centre in the Netherlands; and online events from March-May 2022 across different time zones. This workshop will bring together a wide range of stakeholders who have not previously collaborated, to analyse best practice and available data to identify both research opportunities and solutions to their own local challenges, to create an informal network of champions in this area.

About the workshop

Research software engineering is becoming increasingly essential as the role of research software is becoming at once more critical to scientific discovery, and more difficult to sustain. Research software engineering combines professional software engineering expertise with an intimate understanding of research, and is critical to achieving open science goals. This workshop proposes to consider how research software engineering could be reframed to place DEI as a central organizing principle in research software. This is captured in our inclusion in the workshop title of the French phrase, vive la differénce, which means long live difference. Community involvement is a key element of research software engineering, and broadening the range of contributors will improve scientific and social outcomes. This workshop will bring together a wide range of stakeholders who have not previously collaborated, to analyse best practice and available data to identify both research opportunities and solutions to their own local challenges, to create an informal network of champions in this area.

The workshop aims to:

  1. Address the following research questions:
  • What approaches to repositioning DEI as central to the research software engineering community will prove most promising?
  • Which combinations of social processes and supporting technology show effectiveness in advancing the community of research software engineers workers to direct research toward a future centered on DEI?
  1. Examine both social processes and technological advancements that can be used to place DEI at the heart of research software engineering, with a particular focus on metrics that can be used to incentivise change. The workshop will incorporate sociological models of cultural change that are not often utilised in this community, to identify the conditions that can produce change and that can eventually cause change to be self-sustaining.
  2. Identify how to expedite the culture change needed, by involving DEI agents of change in exchanging best practice, identifying key levers of change in their own communities, planning next steps and expanding their networks. Supporting change agents is a key part of the workshop aims, as large-scale system evolution depends on multiple incremental changes – led by people.
  3. Connect efforts on improving DEI in research software engineering with similar efforts in the open source software community.
  4. Bring together representatives of the increasing array of different types of organisations and initiatives in this space, as enabling more alignment and networks between these has the potential to create the critical mass needed for some outcomes. These will include national RSE associations; DEI initiatives in RSE/data science; open source software; and industry.

More information on the rationale for the workshop and the draft schedule is available on the Lorentz workshop page.

How to get involved

There are two ways you can become involved:

  • Apply to participate in the workshop, which has a maximum of 55 participants. Participants can attend remotely or in-person. The deadline for submission is Friday 26 November 2021 (extended from 19 Nov), and all applicants will be advised of the outcome in December.
  • Sign up to the ReSA newsletter to hear more about the online public events from March-May 2022 that will be associated with the workshop, as more details become available.

Who should apply?

We welcome applications from any of the following, with a preference for individuals working within a technology, software and/or research setting:

  • Champions, key influencers and/or leaders of DEI initiatives, be it your team, organisation, region, discipline, etc. Initiatives can range from grassroots or community efforts, to programs by national bodies, funders, research infrastructure providers, etc.
  • Champions, key influencers and/or leaders of research software engineering initiatives from across the globe.
  • Researchers studying areas such as approaches to improving DEI, impact, challenges, etc.

Lorentz Center information

The in-person meeting from 19-22 April 2022 will take place at the Lorentz Center in Leiden, the Netherlands. This conference center hosts international scientific meetings that are characterized by an open and interactive atmosphere and high scientific quality, and typically a week in length. Accommodation is available on-site. We are grateful to the Lorentz Center for their provision of workshop and online facilities, and indirect expenses valued at up to €25,000, based on contributions by Leiden University and Dutch national funding agencies.

Workshop organisers

  • Michelle Barker - Director, Research Software Alliance, Australia | Open Science Consultant
  • Mozhgan Chimeh - GPU Developer Advocate @ NVIDIA, UK | SSI fellow & Trustee of the board of Research Software Engineering Society
  • Sean Goggins - Professor, University of Missouri, USA | Community Health Analytics Open Source Software (CHAOSS) Project lead
  • Anna-Lena Lamprecht - Assistant Professor of Software Technology, Utrecht University, Netherlands

Photo by Leon on Unsplash.