Founding an Association

Stephan Janosch (translation Daniel Nüst), January 23, 2018

Ever since we have come together as a community to create de-RSE for the everyday support of our work, one question has always been on the table: What organisational and legal form is suitable for the realization of our goals?

It seems clear that a loosely coupled group of willing people will not be able to build supportive structures for the long term, for example:

An impromptu meeting at the 2nd S3 conference in Hannover, May 2017 (recordings) Hendrik Eggers (TU Braunschweig) suggested the foundation of a cooperative besides the creation of a registered association.

Bernadette Fritzsch (Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung) has taken up these first ideas and started a series of telephone conferences in autumn 2017.

Current situation

Three conference calls by a core group of seven members later, we have come to the conclusion that the creation of a registered association is more suitable. Collaboratively (Slack channel #verein) we are developing a charter and rules of operation (both in German). The ultimate goal is a registered non-profit association, which utilises modern technology to allow for distributed collaboration. Additional collaborators are always welcome!


What should that association be named? The abbreviation “de-RSE” seems set. The term Research Software Engineer establishes itself more and more, also internationally (just out:, and is not going to disappear any time soon. But there are also the German job titles of “Wissenschaftler” and “Ingenieur”, which seem to contradict each other at first glance, although both may include software development.

At the moment the charter repository includes three suggestions:

Personally, I favour a mixture, maybe de-RSE e.V.: Förderverein für Forschungssoftware und wissenschaftlich Software Entwickelnde? Maybe you, dear reader, have an illuminating idea for naming our association. The name is going to be widely used in a number of noteworthy contexts:

We look forward to your feedback on the mailing list and in the chat (ideally till Feb. 5th).

And since we’re already here, let’s address another important topic.

Membership fees

Until now, the question of membership fees has rarely been mentioned. But where there are eggs to be broken for an omelette, these eggs need to be laid first. And some forms of third-party funding require a certain level of existing initiative, i.e., own resources. We hope the search for a name is a good occassion for everyone to think about their personal opinion on financial support. Everything is possible:

If I were asked today, I would be ready to pay € 10 per month, roughly the fees my sports club charges me to take care of my health.

We belatedly wish you a good start to 2018 and look forward to your thoughts on the association’s name.