For grant applicants
Grant applicants, if you are planning to use Aalto Research Software Engineers service, feel free to drop by SciComp garage for a chat, contact us at rse-group at aalto.fi, or fill out our request form.
This page is currently (2024-01) our best understanding of what is possible. However, we are still exploring what works and doesn’t, so contact us early so we can work out bugs together. Please send corrections to us.
If you’ve decided you would like to use the research software engineer services in your project for a long period, you might want to write it directly into your grant proposals. If written correctly, this can increase your competitiveness: your research will be better because you can use RSEs for porting/optimizing/scaling of codes, automation, data management, and open science, while concentrating the main project resources on the actual research question. We can do those listed things much faster than most researchers.
If you don’t know if you need our services, or need a consultation of what is even possible computationally, let us know, too!
We can serve as a specialist to complement the researchers in your project, which will make your grant more competitive.
Plan on “Staff Scientist” salary level for at least a few months when convenient for you. (can be as low as 10% time spread out over a longer period of time).
We are written is as a normal staff, since we are. Don’t mention subcontracting or purchasing or things that imply that (this can make funders ask questions).
Contact us for more exact costs and our availability.
Short-term services, less than one month per research group, are funded by various departments and schools and free to the users (part of the “research environment” services). Longer term service should be funded by projects - either an external grant or basic funds. There are two ways to write this into a project proposal:
As a research salary, just like other salaries on your project. This has fewer limits, but is less flexible because we need to go through HR and financial planning.
As a internal changing/purchased service, like usage of different infrastructures. This is flexible, but not compatible with some funders. It should work well with internal, basic funding.
Don’t mention subcontracting or purchasing in your grant text unless it really has to be organized that way. Make us appear as normal employees, since we are.
(1) Funding RSE salary
In this option, your grant directly pays the salary of an RSE from our team. To a funder, this appears the same as hiring a researcher, so is compatible with many types of grants. Some considerations:
This only works internally in Aalto.
Contact us for salary levels (it is roughly staff scientist) and availability.
Tell your controller this salary level and duration. Your controller will compute the necessary overhead and tell you if it is possible. (You should tell you financial staff/HR/etc. that the salary will be used for someone in the School of Science (SCI-common) and ensure that this is fine.)
Finance/HR will set up the Halli system so that we can bill our working hours directly to your project, based on actual time we work.
Realistically, we can spend up to about 80-90% time in a month on a single project (but you must make sure we have time first!).
We bill only the actual time relevant to your project, so while the costs are higher, in the end we are much more efficient than typical researchers who have many other tasks going on.
(2) Purchasing RSE services
Contact us with your needs, and we can give you an estimated price and time required. We can provide the services distributed over a time period that is relevant to you.
Warning: many funders (for example, the Academy of Finland or EU) don’t like for this to be used in their grants. If you do include this in a grant, carefully consult with grant/financial services to make sure this is possible.
In theory, we can serve groups outside of Aalto, but overheads are quite large. We are working on a RSE network within Finland so that we you can efficiently get RSE services no matter where you are.
General grant considerations
You can find general boilerplate text to include in your proposals Boilerplate text for grant proposals, but you can read below to build it in even more.
Data Management / Open Science are big deals among some funders right now, and research engineers are perfect for helping with these things because they are experts in the associated technical challenges. The RSE service can help in the societal impact sections: your outputs will be more ready to be reused by society. You could, for example, promise to deliver more types of outputs that aren’t exactly novel science but help society to use your results (e.g. databases, interactive visualisations, etc.).
Make sure you mention the general Science-IT infrastructure in the “research environment” section, i.e., the basic service provided by Aalto. You can copy something from the boilerplate text (first link in this section).
Academy of Finland
This applies to most general research grants, from the general terms and conditions. Funding may be used to cover costs related to the research plan or action plan. The research site must fund basic project facilities - which is the case at Aalto for basic RSE services.
Interesting terms from the Academy: it urges research data and methods to be freely available. 6.2.2: “Research data and material produced with Academy funding in research projects and research infrastructure projects must be made freely available as soon as possible after the research results have been published.” We are experts in exactly this for computational and data sciences.
As a RSE salary:
Contact us for the salary level which you should budget and our availability. Your controller will help you write this into the budget.
“Salaries, fees and indirect employee costs” may be included in Academy projects. These may go to research software engineers, which to the academy appear equivalent to “normal researchers”. The RSEs are researchers.
Write in a Research Software Engineer as a salary for a set number of months. You may specify a name as N.N., or contact us for a name to include. We do not promise any one person, but we will work with you as much as possible. Contact us for costs per person and we will put you in touch with our controllers. You can also contact us to discuss how much effort you may need.
Note that “We recommend that they be hired for a period of employment no shorter than the funding period, unless a shorter contract is necessary for special reasons dictated by the implementation of the research plan or action plan (or equivalent). Short-term research, studies or other assignments may also be carried out in the form of outsourced services.” So, consider this in justifying the research plan.
Don’t call this subcontracting or purchasing. It’s normal internal salary.
As a service purchase:
Our latest information indicates that internal billing (this service purchase) is not really possible for Academy grants. You must use “As a RSE salary” above.
Please contact us for general costs, and how many person-months you can get for a given price (it is roughly on “Staff Scientist” level). Since estimating the amount of effort needed is difficult, contact us and we can help you prepare with the help of our controllers.
The research site should provide “basic project facilities”, which Aalto does. Justify the extra purchase as beyond the basics.
Maximum amount: We recommend you include no more than XXXXX as a service purchase. Please see LINK (login required) for our prices, when paid via external funding.
Justification for funding (include in proposal): “Technical specialist work to ensure scientific and societal impact outputs follow best practices in software development and research data management practices, so that they can be of greatest possible benefit to society.”
Flexibility: we could flexibly invoice as needed for your project. You don’t have to decide the time period in advance (only follow your submitted budget), and different RSEs can work on different parts of the problem, so you always have the best person for the job.
European Commission grants
Internal billing is (for practical purposes) not possible for EC grants. Use the “RSE salary” method (and don’t call it subcontracting or purchasing - we are normal salary).