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Sat, Oct 28, 2023

Call for Applications: Pushing the Boundaries of Research Software Engineering

                                    

We are excited to announce a new call for applications for the CS&S Event Fund. Over the last three years, we have established engaged community-led governance of the fund and transparently awarded over $525,000 USD to three cohorts of grantees representing 37 organizing teams hailing from 27 countries across six continents.

For this cohort of the Event Fund we are seeking to support Black Research Software Engineers (RSEs) looking to bring change to the spaces and places where they are. We recognize that many people doing relevant work are not yet familiar with the term and may not yet identify as a “Research Software Engineer.”

Let’s break down this phrase a bit:

Black as a sociopolitical marker to invite those who are ill-fit for white supremacist, colonial modes of thinking, and keen to push/resist the status quo. Applicants should identify as Black, African, or African diaspora.

We understand research to necessarily begin with curiosity and wonder about the world. As anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston (1942) wrote: “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”

Software Engineering is a process of understanding user requirements and then designing, building, testing, and maintaining software applications. In particular, research software can include “source code files, algorithms, scripts, computational workflows, and executables that were created during the research process or for a research purpose” (FAIR for Research Software Principles).

Maybe you identify as someone who does research on software programming and coding for the purposes of building technology, someone who builds research technology platforms, a computational researcher, a software developer, a code maintainer, or a community manager. No matter your line of work, we encourage you to apply if you see yourself in the descriptions above. We’re open to receiving work from artists and other non-traditional practitioners in this space.

Applications must be submitted here by November 27, 2023 by 11:59 PM (Pacific)

POINTS OF EXPLORATION

Areas of Focus

Below are the themes of this cohort. The themes guide the type of cohort we want to build and inform the subject matter we would like to see in your proposals.

Recreate/Redefine/Re-establish

We could have just as easily said “undefine.” This section is for pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a research software engineer. How does your work go beyond the government and the university into realms of being useful to the public? How does it escape boundaries and confines of expectation while still making the case for being a research software engineer?

Wonder

This cohort is about researchers – people who wonder (wander, too!). What are your inquiries and how do you find answers to them? How do you rely on other people to do this wondering?

“Make Love”

We hear it. But we’re trying to sincerely highlight how we center relationships. The Event Fund from its inception has been about bringing people together and forging relationships. Genuine relationships lay the groundwork for great open science and technology production, but they also just make the work more fun too.

In addition to relationships, we encourage proposals that address an observed or expressed need by the community.

WHAT WE OFFER

We are a programming team that wants to push the rigor of your ideas and create space for you to wonder. We offer criticality, nudges towards your expansive imagination, and the best part is we are looking to get you the resources to explore it all.

CS&S will provide a participation stipend of $5,000 USD to the individual applicant and $5,000 USD to the community of practice in which they are embedded. In addition to the stipend, the grantee will have access to our network of peers, mentors, and experts in the field. Selected participants will take part in a 6-month program that includes required monthly synchronous meetings that will offer visioning activities, peer mentorship and networking opportunities. Additionally, CS&S aims to make available robust opportunities for presentation, and public engagement at the close of the program.

OUR PRIORITIES

Your application will be reviewed by the CS&S internal programs team and then the cohort #4 selection committee panel. Usually when applying for an open call, funders share criteria, standards and/or a rubric by which they select participants. Instead, as the initial reviewers, we are taking a more transparent approach to transparency by telling you what we like, what we dislike, who we are, and what it is we feel like we’re looking for. These are not limitations — you can be everything we didn’t know to hope for, but an honest look at what types of groups we, your reviewers, are thinking we want to work with. Happy reading!

Miliaku Nwabueze

I feel that playing with different ways of being in the world is essential to resisting the hegemonic power structures that are making life a difficult thing to maintain. I’m looking for an understanding of this to be reflected in the work.

I’m looking for a project, group, and/or person with a strong sense of identity. This quote by bell hooks comes to mind:

“...queer as not being about who you’re having sex with - that can be a dimension of it - but queer as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live.” - bell hooks

I feel like things that have a strong identity are clear about what they are at odds with; a clear sense of what one is doing and not doing.

Projects that are not what people would expect a research software engineer to be working on. Projects the university might scoff at.

Projects that have work that appeal to the populous/people as opposed to policymakers and government funding. Projects that lean into the potential of open source tech have to avoid the privacy traps of proprietary tech while also adding benefit to everyday people. See this video for how we’re thinking about the power of open source.

Angela Okune

I love to hear about how people are challenged, changed, and pushed by those they cross paths and intersect with on the long road called life.

I’ll be keenly looking for individuals that hold a strong sense of desired change based not solely on their own opinions or pulled from thin air, but drawn from grounded, extended engagement with those they work with.

I am keen to learn from/with a cohort that offers strong opinions, sharp critique and also practices deep listening and care for each other.

Madeline de Figueiredo

I am curious to understand the human element of projects, events, and goals. How are we approaching and seeing one another as sophisticated, multidimensional beings who bring our whole selves – including our complicated histories and realities – to our work and professional passions? I want to hear about the space, or event, you are building to allow people to show up as their true selves.

The Selection Committee panel members will be looking for the following aspects as they review:

  • Social impact and divergent thinking

  • Existing relationship with community

  • Thoughtfulness of format and activities

  • (Self-)reflection and openness to change

We are not looking for product proposals. Proposals for apps, products, or pitches are not within our scope. It is within the scope of this call for *event* proposals that concern your projects. We are focusing on the potentials of collaboration and gathering. We also are looking to learn why you want to gather and how gathering would benefit your peers, coworkers, and desired collaborators in your fields. It is fine to gather people who share your concerns, passions, and ideas as well. The most important thing is that you are able to communicate a coherent vision for your event.

HOW TO APPLY

Applications must be submitted here by November 27, 2023 by 11:59 PM (Pacific).

Office Hour Information Sessions

We will host informal office hours during the open RFP period in case any questions arise about grant eligibility, scope of activities, or the application questions. There will be no preferential treatment towards an application based on attendance (or non-attendance) of these sessions.

REGISTER HERE:

Please come with your questions to discuss with the Event Fund Programs Team. This will be a Q&A format. We will publicly post an FAQ based on topics and themes that come up in office hours.

Wed, Oct 25 @ 12 pm ET

November 6 @ 10 am ET

November 8 @ 3:30 pm ET

TIMELINE

Application deadline: November 27th, 2023

Program duration: April 15th, 2024 – September 15th, 2024 (6 months)

ELIGIBILITY

Individuals located anywhere in the world are welcome and encouraged to apply. Applicants should self-identify as Black, African, and/or African diaspora; have experience and skills to design and build software that is or can be used for science, research, experimentation, knowledge production, or relationship development; and self-identify as ill-fit for colonial, white supremacist modes of thinking.

DEADLINE

November 27, 2023, 11:59 PM Eastern Standard.

No late applications will be accepted. Virtual interviews will be scheduled for finalists. Applicants will be notified by January 30, 2024. For questions not covered here, please email css.programs[at]codeforsociety.org.



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