Developing a Research Software Agenda for Australia

Recognising software as a first-class research output.
Female programmer working on new project.She working late at night
Who will benefit
Creators of Research Software, and the people and institutions that support them

The Challenge

Software is pervasive in modern life and Australia’s research sector is no different. Most researchers say their work simply wouldn’t be possible without the use of software.
Despite this, software is largely an invisible part of research. Produced quickly within fixed funding windows, it often struggles to be maintained beyond that initial time frame.

Software is not recognised as a first-class research output in the same way our journal papers and datasets are. Yet it deserves to be.

Until now, there has never been a national focus on driving that culture change, or a simple framework with defined goals that address the core changes required.

The Response

The ARDC sees software as a research enabler. We’re establishing a national agenda to recognise research software as a first-class research output. We’re achieving this collaboratively by engaging widely with Australia’s research sector.

A final version of the National Agenda for Research Software in Australia was released in April 2022. This includes revisions based on community feedback and measures of interest from the community.

Who Will Benefit

Action in line with a robust national agenda will mean:

  • research software creators will be able to access the skills, support and recognition they need to build meaningful and fulfilling careers
  • research software users will be able to readily access well-maintained, fit-for-purpose software
  • staff who support research software creators will benefit from the policies and procedures their institutions adopt.

The Partners

We’ll be partnering with a broad range of stakeholders across research and industry to drive the ARDC’s activities initiated by the agenda. Get in touch if you’d like to work together on common aims.

Previous engagement

We worked alongside the research community to develop the agenda through participatory community engagement.

In May 2021, prior to releasing the draft agenda, we presented initial thoughts and gathered feedback at Data Science Week.

In June 2021, the draft National Agenda for Research Software in Australia was released for community feedback.

We engaged stakeholders about the draft agenda between June and October 2021 to measure interest, prioritise actions and hear new ideas. Priorities identified during this process drove further consultations and development of an implementation plan and informed the final release of the agenda in April 2022

From July to October 2021, the ARDC conducted a number of small group and individual consultations.

In July 2021, we held open invitation consultation events for:

  • research software authors – C3DIS and RSE-AUNZ members
  • support staff who help with writing research software
  • support staff who help with software handling tasks like publication, citation and preservation (watch the presentation video).

In October 2021 we presented an early indication of agenda validation outcomes, including a high-level overview of ARDC validation activities, at:

Also in October 2021, we presented a poster summary of the agenda at eResearch Australasia.

Target Outcomes

This project will lead to a common understanding of the challenges, priorities and actions we all need to take to achieve recognition of research software as a first-class output of research.

This is captured in the final version of the National Agenda for Research Software.

Contact the ARDC

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.