Shape Research Software

Recognising research software as a first-class research output.
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Who will benefit
Researchers writing new software tools for others to use, and the people and institutions supporting them

The Challenge

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.

Making research software a first-class research output ensures Australia can maximise the value that software represents. New research software tools capturing cutting-edge research are often made hastily within a funding window. Creators need access to skills and support to build software that can be broadly and easily reused.

The Response

Our research software program began with an activity to define a community-validated national agenda for research software. Informed by priorities raised during community validation, we’re now applying that framework to subsequent activities designed to shape research software.

This project will encourage and help authors of new software (especially prototype tools) to:

  • anticipate the broadest appropriate use
  • employ best practices for quality software
  • extend upon existing software rather than recreating it (where possible).

With our partners, we’re undertaking a range of activities to build areas of infrastructure, guidance, community and advocacy.

Who Will Benefit

Quality research software can more immediately translate into benefits not just for the creators and users of this software. Faster, more robust and actionable novel research methods have clear benefits for the economy, environment and society.

The people and institutions who support research software creators will benefit from the policy and processes we’re developing to drive and support this culture change in Australia’s research sector.

The Partners

Our current partner on this project is the Research Software Alliance. We are also working with the Software Sustainability Institute on techniques for identifying priorities for building better software. Other partners are mentioned below in the context of outputs to date.

We are open to additional partnerships. Contact us using the form below.

Target Outcomes

This project will result in the following outcomes:


New software arising from research is treated as an asset.

Specific outputs and deliverables for this outcome include Unearthing Research Software, a report estimating the scale of new software arising from ARC-supported research in Australia.


Researchers can connect to guidance to build better research software from inception.

Specific outputs and deliverables for this outcome include events and guidance materials on building better software.


Researchers producing new software for peers are connected with each other and sharing good practices.

Specific outputs and deliverables for this outcome include the “Shaping Research Software” series, which profiles makers of research software including ‘researchers-who-code’ and research software engineers currently being scoped.


Scholarly societies, employers and peers recognise and reward the value of new research software as a contribution to research.

Specific outputs and deliverables for this outcome include:

Additional activities will be developed and deliver new outputs over the course of the project. If you have suggestions or would like to partner on a project in support of the above outcomes, please be in contact using the form below.

Contact the ARDC

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Current Phase

In progress

Project lead

Dr Tom Honeyman, ARDC


Research Topic