About the Research Software Developers Network

Is part of your role developing software or electronic data for research, in any academic discipline? 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 the RSDN is for you.

Or are you a researcher or manager who needs help with software development for a project? Would you like somewhere to go for informal expert advice? Do you struggle to recruit people with the skills you need? Would you like access to a pool of talented individuals already employed by the University? If so, then the RSDN can help you.

We welcome involvement from all interested in these topics, in all parts of the University, whether you are a graduate student, or academic or support staff. If you are not a member of the University, you can still join the RSDN mailing list - email rsdn@oerc.ox.ac.uk with your details.

The Oxford e-Research Centre, the Computer Science department, the Bodleian Libraries, Advanced Research Computing, and Digital.Humanities@Oxford have set up a University-wide network of Research Software Developers (RSDs): those who combine expertise in programming and/or data development with an intricate understanding of research, and who support the work of researchers in developing or customising the software that is fundamental to so much of modern research. Many such people are employed or studying 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.

This website provides a central support for the network: a register of RSDs and their expertise, combined with a community forum and virtual employment exchange to facilitate discussion of project ideas, and linking RSDs with research needing their skills. Otherwise what the network does is largely up to the members, but includes 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. There is plenty of time for questions and informal discussion over refreshments, so you can come with a problem and ask advice, or describe a project you want someone to work on. 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.

Getting involved

Registering as a network member is simple - just sign in with your Oxford SSO account, and fill in some basic profile information. You are also welcome to attend our meetings to find out more; details are given on the Events page. We have a mailing list on which announcements about the network are made. Visit the list website to subscribe (you do not need an Oxford University email address to subscribe), or email rsdn@oerc.ox.ac.uk. All members are allowed to post to the list, so it can be used for job adverts, requests for help, and the like. Online discussions are probably better suited to our Slack channel; you should be able to use an email address of the form abcd1234@nexus.ox.ac.uk to sign up to that automatically.

Development team

The following individuals are currently involved in setting up and running the network. Queries should be addressed to Julie Meikle.

  • David Robey, Oxford e-Research Centre and Digital Humanities
  • Wes Armour, Oxford e-Research Centre
  • Ian Bush, Oxford e-Research Centre
  • Michael Davis, Bodleian Libraries
  • Pip Willcox, Co-ordinator, Centre for Digital Scholarship
  • Andy Richards, Advanced Research Computing
  • James Cummings, IT Services
  • Iain Emsley, Oxford e-Research Centre and Software Sustainability Institute
  • Julie Meikle, Oxford e-Research Centre (Communications)
  • Ruth Kirkham, Oxford e-Research Centre (Impact Manager)

The Network is also supported by the Software Sustainability Institute.

Related links