One of the biggest challenges we face as an organization supporting the research computing and data (RCD) profession is defining what it means to be an RCD professional. Although it’s clear our profession is growing and very much in-demand, the lines between RCD and other types of jobs are often blurred, and our professional titles rarely reflect the breadth of what we do. Supporting the needs of researchers is distinct and often very different from providing enterprise technology services to a general user population (even though many of us do both and overlap certainly exists). The Campus Research Computing Consortium (CaRCC) focuses on the challenges and opportunities unique to providing computational, data, and other related services to researchers.
Am I an RCD professional?
Most of us would agree that the people who manage university supercomputers are RCD professionals, but am I an RCD professional if I help researchers navigate data and my title is Librarian or Data Scientist? Am I an RCD professional if I’m a programmer who develops software that supports a research project? Am I an RCD professional if I’m not involved in hands-on technical work but do outreach and education to help researchers find and use technology and data resources?
If you are supporting researchers in any way through systems, software, data, security, networking, data center operations, or education and consulting, yes –you are an RCD professional!
Report data is intended to support strategic planning and decision-making for campus leadership, funding agencies, RCD leaders, and others interested in advanced technologies that enable research.
Themes that emerged from the 2021 data include:
There is generally stronger support for Researcher-Facing, System-Facing, and Strategy and Policy-Facing areas, than for Data-Facing and Software-Facing capabilities.
R1 institutions have much higher levels of coverage than other Carnegie Classifications, particularly in certain areas.
EPSCoR institutions have significant gaps in capabilities coverage relative to institutions in other states, including dramatic gaps in certain areas of Data-Facing support.
“This level of data has never before been readily available to the RCD community,” said Patrick Schmitz, co-principal investigator on the RCD Nexus project. “We were intrigued to see that institutions who completed a second assessment in 2021 saw a marked increase in their capabilities related to RCD strategy and policy. It’s possible the assessment is already helping them improve their programs. We will work to continue expanding the dataset in the coming years, and are pleased to offer the RCD community a solid baseline dataset to help inform strategic planning.”
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant OAC-2100003. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.