Recognising research software as a first-class output of research

Developing and implementing a national research software agenda is a strategic activity for the ARDC’s Platforms and Software theme. Over 2020-2023, this initiative will enable the ARDC to establish the agenda for recognition of research software as a first-class research output, alongside journal papers and datasets, and for recognising the importance of software as a research enabler.

Now is the time to lift recognition of research software as a first-class output of research, by making it seen, well-shaped and sustained.

The ARDC will work alongside the research community to develop the agenda through participatory community engagement.

Why do we need to elevate research software?

Software is pervasive in modern life. In the research domain, most researchers say that their work would simply not be possible without the use of software. Despite this, software is an often invisible part of research, produced quickly without the application of software engineering principles, and often struggles to be maintained beyond a funding window.

Making research software a first class research output ensures that Australia will be able to fully utilise the value that research software represents. Making software creation and use more visible increases trust in research processes. Shaping cutting-edge research software for broadest and easiest use and reuse at the point of creation means that research software can more immediately translate into benefits for the economy, environment and society. Sustaining valued research software means that it can become resilient and continue to provide those benefits.

See, Shape and Sustain research software

This agenda revolves around three layers of distinct action to See, Shape and Sustain research software. The table below shows different clusters of concerns. Each layer has a distinct cluster of outputs, needs, authors and drivers, all summarised in the table below.

LayerOutputsCore ConcernAuthorsPrimary Driver
SeeResearch data processes in research software formSharing/AvailabilityResearchersResearch integrity
ShapeNovel methods and models as research softwareBest practice software engineeringNascent research software engineers (possibly with Research Software Engineers)Research excellence and impact
SustainAccepted and broadly used methods and models as research softwareMaintenanceResearch software engineersStable research infrastructure

Read A National Agenda for Research Software Draft

You can access the draft National Agenda for Research software, published 11 June 2021 at

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ARDC will be engaging with stakeholders regarding the draft agenda in June and July 2021 to measure interest, prioritise actions, and hear new ideas. Engagement will continue on identified priorities thereafter in the context of an implementation plan that will be developed in response to the consultation.

Related events

An early indication of outcomes from the agenda validation have been presented at:

A poster summary of the agenda was presented at:

  • eResearch Australasia “A National Research Software Agenda (Poster)” (15 October 2021) (poster / video introduction 2 minutes)

Open invitation consultation events were held for:

  • Authors of Research Software (6 July 2021 C3DIS and 23 July 2021 RSE-AUNZ members)
  • Support staff who help with writing research software (21 July, 29 July)
  • Support staff who assist with software handling tasks like publication, citation, preservation etc (22 July) (presentation video 19 minutes)

How to get involved

If you would like to be part of shaping Australia’s research software agenda, please contact us.

Key resources