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Metrics for RSE Contributions: An overview of community consultations

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posted on 2022-03-03, 02:34 authored by eRNZ AdmineRNZ Admin, Nooriyah Lohani, Justin Baker, Manodeep Sinha, Nick May, Rebecca Lange, Heidi Perrett

“A Research Software Engineer (RSE) combines professional software engineering expertise with an intimate understanding of research.” ( There is an increasing awareness of the value RSEs provide to the research community. RSE communities themselves are growing rapidly both within the New Zealand research sector and internationally. Many research-based organisations are working towards having the RSE role recognised and defined as a career path in its own right. However, the multifaceted nature of the role makes it a complicated task to capture the various kinds of RSE contributions.

To be able to recognise the contributions of RSE’s, this BoF will raise questions and encourage discussions such as: Does it make sense to attach metrics to a complex role like the RSE, and if so, what should such metrics encompass?

Consider the following list, which highlights a subset of the diverse range of skills, services, and capabilities common to many RSEs:

  • Science domain/computational knowledge
  • Training and outreach
  • Best practice software development and methodologies
  • Mentoring
  • Adherence to software and data standards
  • Knowledge about domain-specific as well as general-purpose software tools
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data analytics and visualisation
  • Publication support for supplementary software/data

In 2021, members of the RSE AUNZ steering committee facilitated conversations with members of the RSE community in New Zealand, Australia and other interested stakeholders to help identify the various facets of RSE contributions and associated suitable metrics. In this presentation, we would like to present the findings of BoFs and community discussions (namely BoFs at eResearch AU 2021, NZRSE 2021, etc.) to better understand and quantify the contributions of RSEs.


Nooriyah Lohani has a background in Genetics and Computer Science with 8 years experience working in commercial R&D and academic research in New Zealand. Nooriyah is now part of the engagement and communications team at New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) alongside pursuing a PhD in Data Science. Nooriyah is passionate about recognising the contributions of researchers/research software engineers bringing together research and software skills, which she actively works towards as co-chair of the Research Software Engineers - Australia and New Zealand community.

Dr. Manodeep Sinha is a computational astrophysicist based at the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing at Swinburne University, Melbourne. Dr. Sinha completed his PhD in Astronomy from The Pennsylvania State University, and is currently a Senior Research Software Scientist, working with the ARC Centre of Excellence All-Sky Astrophysics in 3D (ASTRO 3D). Dr. Sinha works at the intersection of astrophysics, statistics, high-performance computing and software engineering. Dr. Sinha is a passionate advocate for sustainable research infrastructure and a champion for open and inclusive communities. Dr. Sinha is the founder and co-chair of the Research Software Engineers (Australia & New Zealand) community.

Mr Justin Baker is Leader of the Scientific Computing Data Analytics and VisualisationTeam at CSIRO.