First conference for research software in Germany

11/06/2019 - After the success of the first three international conferences of Research Software Engineers (RSEs) in Great Britain, the first conference in Germany on the topic of research software took place from 4 to 6 June 2019 in the Albert Einstein Science Park in Potsdam. Research Software Engineers (RSEs) are people who develop research software, regardless of their job title and degree. Some 200 attendees from Germany and other parts of Europe took part in the fully booked conference: a broad mix of researchers from various fields, experts in software funding and financing, developers and software service providers. Organizers were Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI) - Fachbereich Softwaretechnik (SWT), de-RSE e.V. - Gesellschaft für Forschungssoftware, the Potsdam Research Centre of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
First conference for research software in Germany
Participants of the Software Engineering Conference on Potsdam's Telegraph Hill. Photo: Antonia Cozacu, Jan Philipp Dietrich

"In research, almost nothing is possible without software – but it is almost never discussed," says co-organiser Jan Philipp Dietrich of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. "Quality assurance in software is always also quality assurance for research, and silentness certainly doesn't help here. The first German conference on research software is supposed to advance the discussion about how good software has to be, in order for good research to come out of it".

The conference creates a unique network in the German scientific landscape among various actors, stakeholders and industry on the topic of research software in order to discuss current topics such as digital transformation in research and science, sustainability, funding opportunities and possible contributions to the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI).

"Research software plays an indispensable role in the digital transformation of research and science," explains Martin Hammitzsch, head of the e-Science Centre at GFZ, board member of de-RSE e.V. and co-organiser of the conference. "As an elementary component of research activities, software supports the acquisition, processing and evaluation of data, and the modelling and simulation of complex processes. In addition, it represents an essential component of the scientific IT infrastructure”.

Michael Goedicke, Vice President of the Gesellschaft für Informatik, also underlines the relevance of software and the people involved in it in science and research: "Today, there are only a few research areas that manage without software support. This also brings into focus the process of developing research software, which in addition to technical aspects also touches on many ethical, legal and organizational issues. We have to confront them very intensely if we do not want to compromise on the quality of our research results".

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