Investigating the economics of research software engineering: Costs, benefits and trade-offs

Jeremy Cohen from Imperial College will be giving a seminar on the economics of research software engineering: Costs, benefits and trade-offs

Abstract: Software has been an important element of research for a long time but as research becomes increasingly computationally-based, many more researchers across a wide range of domains are finding that software development forms a key part of their research work. This has led to the rise of the concept of Research Software Engineering (RSE), the RSE community and the development of RSE teams at several institutions.

These teams generally support a number of research software engineers who undertake professional quality software engineering to support researchers across an institution. What are the costs, benefits and tradeoffs of research software being developed by an RSE team or by a local researcher undertaking some coding in addition to their research? How does this affect the challenges of building reliable, robust and maintainable research software that can support the development of quality, reproducible research outputs? In this talk I will look at the initial stage of some work being undertaken, in collaboration with an economist, to understand the costs and benefits of different approaches to building research software.

I'll highlight some of the tradeoffs involved and the challenges that we face in trying to identify a concrete model for understanding the most suitable approach to building research software in different circumstances.

About the speaker: Jeremy Cohen is an EPSRC Research Software Engineering Fellow based in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London and affiliated to Imperial's Research Software Engineering team. He has a background in distributed computing and e-Science and focuses on working with scientists across a wide range of domains to develop middleware and tools to support easier end-user access to complex scientific codes and advanced computing infrastructure.

Jeremy has been involved in collaborative projects covering areas including Aeronautics, Bioinformatics, Physics, Atmospheric Chemistry, Transport and Digital Humanities. He started Imperial College London's research software community in 2015 and also runs the London and South East regional research software community, RSLondon, which helps to bring together researchers, developers, academics and anyone interested in research software from institutions across London and the South East of England.