The Netherlands eScience Center Releases Job Profile and Role Description for Research Software Engineers 

22 Jun 2023 - 3 min

The Netherlands eScience Center is proud to announce the release of a comprehensive role description and job profile for Research Software Engineers (RSEs). These documents state how the eScience Center defines an RSE and describe the tasks and skills expected of RSEs who work at the Center. The role description and job profile can serve as resources for others who are looking to define and appropriately position RSEs within their organizations. 

Recognition for research software engineers

“The Netherlands eScience Center is the Dutch national centre of expertise on research software. We employ more than 70 experienced RSEs, most of whom have distinct profiles as academic researchers,” says Joris van Eijnatten, general director of the Center. “By publishing the job profile and role description of RSEs, we hope to give RSEs inside and outside the eScience Center the recognition they deserve. We hope other organizations will follow our example.”  

Research software lies at the heart of scientific advancements, and RSEs are therefore a key driving force behind present-day research. Traditional academic job profiles still often fall short in capturing the contributions of these professional researchers. The job profiles developed by the eScience Center fill this gap, recognizing and appreciating the expertise that RSEs bring to research. 

While the eScience Center itself is geared towards performing academic research, it recognizes that the activities and educational levels of RSEs can vary significantly. The ‘role description’ explains this, showing that the label RSE can cover both ‘academic’ and ‘research support’ staff.  

Within the academic staff, the label RSE can be adopted by any level, from PhD candidates to professors. The emphasis of these RSEs is on high-quality and innovative methodological research. (…) On the research support side of this spectrum, it is appropriate to use the term “software stewardship” as an analogy to “data stewardship.” In this case, RSEs primarily focus on advising on best practices, including documentation, licensing, archiving, version control and testing of research software.  

Using tailored RSE job profiles or adapting existing profiles to fit the work RSEs actually do, ensures that RSEs are properly recognized and rewarded. The eScience Center regards this as a crucial step towards creating a more inclusive and comprehensive recognition system.  

Who are we? 

The eScience Center is a research organization dedicated to applying research software to answer research questions in any scientific domain through project collaborations. It has the largest concentration of dedicated, high-level research software expertise in the Netherlands. The eScience Center also organizes workshops for researchers, has a fellowship programme and makes all of its software and training materials openly available online. For more information about what we offer, visit esciencecenter.nl.