Call for Proposal - RSE collaboration

Rationale

Introduction

The University of Sheffield recognizes the critical role that Research Software Engineers (RSEs) play in advancing scientific research. The University of Sheffield Research Software Engineering (RSE) team was founded in 2016 by two EPSRC RSE fellows to develop research software and collaborate with academics/researchers developing research software. The team has since grown to 11 members and has engaged with all faculties at the University. We have worked with research teams on small internally funded projects but also with large international consortiums and industry. Areas of expertise within the group include: code optimisation and performance, reproducibility and embedding good software engineering practice within a project or team, developing/maintaining infrastructure, data management, developing computational workflows, GPU computing and Deep Learning, data science/visualisation, High Performance Computing using local/national/international/cloud systems, general software development, software/hardware interface, development of impact case studies, consultancy, training and education delivery and support.

To support the One University vision and the University research community we are pleased to announce the 2024 RSE collaboration call for proposals. This initiative aims to facilitate access to RSE expertise for researchers who require assistance with software development, optimization, or other computational challenges.

Objective

The objective of this call is to offer dedicated RSE collaboration to researchers who may lack the resources or expertise to effectively develop and maintain research software. By providing free access to RSE expertise, we aim to enhance the quality, reliability, and impact of research projects across diverse disciplines.

Eligibility

  • Any research active staff, including PDRAs, and PhD students, affiliated to the University of Sheffield can apply to this call.
  • Projects must involve significant software development that would benefit from RSE expertise.
  • Preference may be given to projects with potential high impact or those addressing pressing scientific challenges.

Funding and support

For this first call, the team will select two projects.Selected proposals will receive 6 months @ 45-50% FTE of RSE support. The start date will be decided by the RSE team based on the project timeline and RSEs availability. The duration of the project will not exceed 6 months but might be shortened with a higher FTE fraction (e.g. 3 months @ 100%). In addition, the collaboration will be continuous and can not be split into multiple shorter, disjointed periods of time.

Application guidelines

An application template for this call has been prepared and is available here. We kindly request applicants to use this template for the application. This is a locked file so please make a copy to be able to complete it. We give more details about each section below.

  • Abstract [max 600 words]: Provide a brief description of the research project, its objectives and the role of software or computation methods in achieving these objectives. As reviewers might not be expert in your field, please make sure that your abstract is accessible to the panel.

  • RSE support objectives [max 600 words]: Outline the specific areas where RSE expertise is needed, such as software development, optimisation, debugging, use of HPC, etc… We remind you that, if selected, your project will receive 6 months half time. You will have to take into account project onboarding at the beginning of the collaboration and offboarding the project where we will handover the work done back to you.

  • Expected outcome [max 300 words]: What does a successful collaboration look like to you? Describe the anticipated outcomes resulting from the contribution of RSE.

  • Project risks [max 200 words]: What issues may cause the collaboration to be unsuccessful? Briefly describe the potential risks to the project. (A common example: lack of data or no access to sensitive data).

  • Impact statement [max 200 words]: Explain how access to free RSE time would benefit the project and contribute to its success or broader research goals.

  • Existing material [max 200 words]: Briefly explain what existing material you already have: Data, Software, Documentation…

  • Preferred timeline: what would be the ideal time distribution of the RSE.

The application shall be sent to the chair of the panel N. Shephard (see below for contact information) with subject ‘Application for RSE call 2024’, as PDF no later than the 28th of June at 5pm.

Review and selection process

The panel reviewing the projects will consist of members from the Research Software Engineering team and Data Analytics Service [DAS]. The panel will gather in July where a final selection will be done.

The criteria for the selection will be the following:

  • Fit: Request fits the objective of the call.
  • Skills: Does the RSE team have the required skills? Are these skills available for the duration of the project?
  • Impact: Potential Impact of the RSE work [For the project, and wider for the community.]
  • Practicality: How easy will it be for the RSE to join the project?
  • Resource efficiency: Is the work requested achievable in the offered time?

Selected projects will be advertised on our website (displaying a short abstract of the project).

Important dates

  • Deadline for proposal submission: June 28th
  • Notification of Decision: July 22th
  • Earliest start of project: September 1st
  • Latest start of project: February 3rd

Important Note: While the P.I. is requested to provide an ideal starting date, the final starting date might be different. Availability of team members depends on other projects and we will make our best to accommodate the requested starting date. We will therefore ask the P.I.s to understand that if their project is selected, the starting date might be different from what they have requested.

Contact information

For inquiries or assistance with the proposal submission process, please contact Neil Shephard (n.shephard@sheffield.ac.uk, Chair of the selection Panel) and/or Romain Thomas, (romain.thomas@sheffield.ac.uk, Head of the RSE group).

Contact Us

For queries relating to collaborating with the RSE team on projects: rse@sheffield.ac.uk

Information and access to JADE II and Bede.

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Queries regarding free research computing support/guidance should be raised via our Code clinic or directed to the University IT helpdesk.