Sustain Research Software

Recognising research software as a first-class research output.
One person looking thoughtfully at 2 computer screens full of code and another pointing at it
Who will benefit
Developers and maintainers of research software infrastructure, 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. Research software infrastructure is software capturing ideas, methods and models that are more broadly accepted and needed to do research. Even though it underpins a range of research areas, it struggles to be maintained. Developers and maintainers of this infrastructure also struggle with career stability and recognition.

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 sustain research software.

Sustainable research software:

  • is enabled by roles which are themselves stable, inclusive, supported and valued
  • has viable pathways to maintenance.

Best-practice software engineering is also a feature of sustainable software. For more information read about our Shape Research Software project.

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

Who Will Benefit

Both creators and users of research software infrastructure will benefit from greater stability and continuity. Robust research software infrastructure, providing accepted methods and models used across all areas of research has clear benefits for the economy, environment and society.

The people and institutions who support developers and maintainers of research software infrastructure 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 partners for this project are:

Target Outcomes

This project will result in the following outcomes:


Sustainable research software infrastructure is understood broadly as the combination of maintained code and the stable careers of those maintaining it. 

Outcomes include the Research Software Capability in Australia report, which analyses the results of a survey to measure the scale and distribution of software engineering and development capability for Australian research organisations.


It is easy for developers and maintainers to identify what pathways their projects can follow to achieve sustainability.

Outcomes include events and guidance on sustaining research software.


Strong advocacy for the value of research software engineering is achieved through a vibrant, diverse and growing community of research software engineers.

Outcomes include the following:

  • The ARDC has representation on the steering committee of RSE-AUNZ and has partnered in their activities, including the first RSE Asia Australia Unconference held in September 2022. Read our review of RSE-AUNZ, which aims to provide an informed recommendation on the community’s continuation based on an anonymous community survey and a steering committee survey conducted by the ARDC lead in April 2023.
  • The ARDC convened a managers forum for managers of professional RSE staff held for the first time at eResearch Australasia in 2022.


Maintain research software infrastructure.

Outcomes include:

Additional activities will be developed and will deliver new outcomes over the course of the project.

Contact the ARDC

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