A Research Software Developers Network for Oxford University

Is a large part of your role developing software or electronic data for research in any part of the University? Would you like to meet others like you, share experiences, and learn from each other? Would you like help finding similar roles when your current contract ends? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then we’d like to hear from you! Please fill in our survey, and read on for more about what we’re planning.

The Oxford e-Research Centre, the Computer Science department, the Bodleian Libraries and Digital.Humanities@Oxford have recently set up a University-wide network of Research Software Developers (RSDs): those who combine expertise in programming and data development with an intricate understanding of research, and who support the work of researchers in developing the (usually bespoke) software that is fundamental to so much of modern research. Many such people are employed across the University, but they are not always well supported by cross-university structures. As a result they are often isolated and difficult to retain within the University. We are thus looking to connect these individuals in order to share expertise, provide appropriate advanced training, and facilitate re-employment with the University, hence optimising the use of their skills to enhance the University’s research.

A central support for the network will be a register of RSDs and their expertise, combined with a community forum and virtual employment exchange. Otherwise what the network does will be largely up to the members, but will include regular meetings with talks from members or external speakers on new technologies, techniques they’ve found useful, case studies of how particular projects were tackled, and the like. We plan to run training sessions and hackathons to learn new tools/languages, or address common problems. There could also be research talks on relevant topics that have the potential to be transferred into RSD work.

Latest news

Our next meetings will be:

Contact Jonathan Cooper if you would like to give a short talk, or have a request for a topic to be covered in a longer presentation.

The second meeting of the network was held on Tuesday 28th July at 9.30-10.30am in Lecture Theatre B in the Wolfson Building, Computer Science department. We had five lightning talks from members, as well as James Wilson of IT Services giving some guidance on how to incorporate software development in grant proposals. The formal part was followed by drinks and biscuits for those that could stay a little longer.

Our funding proposal to the University’s IT Innovation Seed Fund received 32 net votes and 36 comments, making it the most popular proposal in this round. Many thanks for your support! We were offered partial funding and are drawing up detailed plans to use this.

Getting involved

To let us know if you are interested in being involved in such a network, and/or to provide any comments on our ideas, please fill in our short survey (<5 minutes).

You are also welcome to attend our meetings to find out more; details are given above.

Finally, we have a mailing list on which announcements about the network are made. Visit the list website to subscribe.

Development team

The following individuals are currently involved in setting up the network. Queries should be addressed to Jonathan Cooper.

  • Jonathan Cooper, Department of Computer Science
  • David Robey, Oxford e-Research Centre and Digital.Humanities@Oxford
  • Wes Armour, Oxford e-Research Centre
  • Charles Crowther, Classics
  • Michael Davis, Bodleian Libraries
  • Andy Richards, Advanced Research Computing
  • James Cummings, IT Services
  • Iain Emsley, Oxford e-Research Centre and Software Sustainability Institute

The Network is also supported by the Software Sustainability Institute.

Related links