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Summary of RDA Plenary 21 session

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    During the RDA Plenary 21, the Policies in Research Organizations for Research Software (PRO4RS) Working Group (WG) had its first event, introducing the WG and its members. The WG aims to create a community of stakeholders involved in promoting and/or implementing policy that supports research software at the research institution level. This session focused on the concept of research software, and its differentiation with general-purpose software applications used in research, as well as the overlap with open-source software. This will contribute to a shared understanding of what the WG will focus on in the coming months.
    Overall, the session’s discussions were around the understanding and recognition of research software as a scientific output. We concluded with a strong consensus on the importance of a collective approach to policy development, ensuring that policy efforts are complemented by adequate infrastructure, and technology, to facilitate implementation.
    The session was facilitated by Pedro Hernandez Serrano, Daniel S. Katz, Hugh Shanahan, and Jeremy Cohen. The session attracted a diverse audience, including research support staff, academics specializing in research infrastructure and computing, and representatives from notable institutes such as Software Heritage, the Netherlands eScience Center, and the Software Sustainability Institute.
    A summary of this session is available, including a recording. You can also join the WG.
    A related event on the 3rd October was the Netherlands research software institutional policies workshop, organized by the Netherlands eScience Center, Dutch Research Council (NWO), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Technical University Delft (TU Delft).. There was good representation of the Dutch research organizations, with most universities represented, as well as several other research organizations. Jeremy Cohen provided an overview of the PRO4RS WG. The primary goals of the meeting were to:

    Take stock of developments around research software policies at the Dutch research organizations

    Provide information on international initiatives such as PRO4RS

    Bring people working on this topic together

    Get input on how the eScience Center and NWO can support the Dutch research organizations re: research software policies

    One of the takeaways from the meeting was that most organizations are just starting to work on this or are starting to think about it ((however, some have not yet reached this point)). Only a few, including TU Delft, have a published research software policy. Another takeaway was that the audience clearly indicated a wish for further support around this topic.

    Another related event was the recent National Institute for Theoretical and Computational Sciences mini-school: “Research Software Engineering as an exciting career and a critical component of the research ecosystem”. The mini-school aimed to highlight the full scope of what RSEs do and how they enhance the research environment, to provide insight into this dynamic field and its pivotal role in research. The four talks included How and why research institutes should support RSEs by Michelle Barker, which highlighted the PRO4RS WG.

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