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International collaboration for survey

DOI License

Collaboration tool to create surveys and analyse data about Research Software Engineers around the world

This repository is used to create and analyse international surveys. It use csv files to store questions and answers that are later transformed into a limesurvey TSV file. The analysis are using python and are shared within jupyter notebooks.

In 2016 the Software Sustainability Institute ran the first survey of Research Software Engineers (RSEs) - the people who write code in academia. This produced the first insight into the demographics, job satisfaction, and practices of RSEs. To support and broaden this work, the Institute will run the UK survey every year and - it is hoped - will expand the survey so that insight and comparison can be made across different countries. Ultimately, we hope that these results, the anonymised version of which will all be open licensed, will act as a valuable resource to understand and improve the working conditions for RSEs.

In 2017 we also surveyed Canadian RSEs and we added four further countries, Germany, Netherlands, South Africa and USA. Our thanks to our partners: Scott Henwood (Canada), Stephan Janosch and Martin Hammitzsch (Germany), Ben van Werkhoven and Tom Bakker (Netherlands), Anelda van der Walt (South Africa) and Daniel Katz and Sandra Gesing (USA).

In 2018 we have worked differently and created a survey for all countries (rather than one survey for each ones).

Published results

We publish the results under the form of notebooks. All surveys have an attached 'public.csv' file. Theses files have been cleaned of all sensitive data. Therefore, the jupyter notebooks show some results that are not contained in the 'public.csv'.

Country 2016 2017 2018
Australia N/A N/A Analysis / Public data
Canada N/A Analysis / Public data
Germany N/A Analysis / Public data
Netherlands N/A Analysis / Public data
New Zealand N/A N/A
United Kingdom Analysis / Public data Analysis / Public data
United States N/A Analysis / Public data
South Africa N/A Analysis / Public data

Composition of the survey

The base questions for the survey were tailored to meet the requirements of each country. They covered ten subjects:

  1. Demographics: traditional social and economic questions, such as gender, age, salary and education.
  2. Coding: how much code do RSEs write, how often, and for whom.
  3. Employment: questions about where RSEs work and in which disciplines.
  4. Current contract: understanding stability of employment by questioning the type of employment contract RSEs receive.
  5. Previous employment: understanding routes into the profession the reasons for choosing it.
  6. Collaboration and training: who RSEs work with, how many people they work with, and the training they conduct.
  7. Publications: do RSEs contribute to publications and are they acknowledged?
  8. Sustainability and tools: testing, bus factor, technical handover. Also which tools they are using
  9. Job satisfaction: what do RSEs think about their job and their career?
  10. Network: how do RSEs meet and gain representation? These subjects are not necessarily investigated under this order, neither published with that order.



If you wish to contribute and being involved in the survey creation please follow the HOWTOCONTRIBUTE. If you have discover an issue in the survey or wish to participate to the conversation we welcome any issue submission.

Current contributors

Here is a list of contributors for the 2017/2018 version of the survey (alphabetic order). They are also mentioned in the .zenodo.json to be automatically added to the DOI.

  • Stephan Druskat
  • Sandra Gesing
  • Martin Hammitzsch
  • Scott Henwood
  • Simon Hettrick
  • Stephan Janosch
  • Katrin Leinweber
  • Olivier Philippe
  • Nooriyah P. Lohani
  • Nicholas R. May
  • Manodeep Sinha
  • Daniel S. Katz
  • Anelda van der Walt
  • Ben van Werkhoven


This repository contains code and public data. We have different licence for each

The repository is also archived on zenodo: If you want to cite this work and need a citation in a specific format, you can use the citation service on the zenodo.


The citation for the 2018 version is:

Olivier Philippe, Martin Hammitzsch, Stephan Janosch, Anelda van der Walt, Ben van Werkhoven, Simon Hettrick, … Manodeep Sinha. (2019, March 6). softwaresaved/international-survey: Public release for 2018 results (Version 2018-v.1.0.2). Zenodo.

The citation for the 2017 version is:

Olivier Philippe, Martin Hammitzsch, Stephan Janosch, Anelda van der Walt, Ben van Werkhoven, Simon Hettrick, … Scott Henwood. (2018, March 27). softwaresaved/international-survey: Public release for 2017 results (Version 2017-v1.2). Zenodo.


The Software Sustainability Institute is supported by EPSRC grant EP/H043160/1 and EPSRC/ESRC/BBSRC grant EP/N006410/1, with additional project funding from Jisc and NERC. Collaboration between the universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Oxford and Southampton.