DHTech Participation at US-RSE Conference

Screenshot of the US-RSE'23 website

Several DHTech members attended the inaugural US-RSE conference, an event by the US Research Software Engineer Association themed “Software-Enabled Discovery and Beyond.” While the majority of attendees hailed from STEM fields rather than the humanities or social sciences, common challenges, such as building sustainable and maintainable software, were universally recognized. The difficulty of building sustainable, maintainable, reproducible, and extensible software was a common refrain at the conference.

Jeffrey Carver, a DHTech member, conducted a half-day workshop on Software Engineering for Research Software Engineering (SE4RSE'23) alongside Neil Chue Hong and Miranda Mundt. Carver’s presentation on “Peer Code Review in Research Software: Enhancing Quality and Collaboration” explored the processes, challenges, and improvements required when RSEs conduct code reviews. His survey of code review practices revealed that code reviews regularly identify issues which are difficult to test or statically analyze; that many engineers have positive experiences with code review and that it improves team cohesion; and that most downsides of code review stem from social or incentive problems (too much time, misunderstanding criticism, difficult to find reviewers).

DHTech steering committee members Cole Crawford and Jeffrey Tharsen organized a panel on Code Review for Research Software, featuring insights from Troy Comi, Jeffrey Carver, and Julia Damerow. Troy discussed creating a repo review initiative at Princeton to improve software quality prior to publication for researchers without access to an RSE in their group; Julia addressed code review as a team building and quality assurance practice in the context of the DHTech Code Review Working Group and her student workers at Arizona State University; and Jeffrey touched on the benefits and challenges of code review. The highlight of the panel was a full hour of lively, open discussion with conference attendees.

Lastly, we extend our gratitude and congratulations to Julia Damerow, a general chair of the event, for a successful US-RSE conference debut!