Funded BEAR Software Engagements

RSEs on Funded Projects

Onion Model - simple

In 2019 we began the process of expanding our offering to include larger, funded coding projects. The idea was to allow a research group to pay for an RSE for a period of time. This could be a short project (e.g. 0.5 FTE for 3 months) or a long project (e.g. 0.8 FTE for 4 years). To achieve this we envisioned a central pool of RSEs that could satisfy such projects without them leaving the university as the project finished.

The community of RSEs on campus is described by the following diagram. Many RSEs will continue to operate in colleges, departments and research groups independently of the RSG. However, there are now three ways for RSEs to become part of the RSG to a greater or lesser extent. The diagram is described further below.

The diagram is comprised of five groups of RSEs:

  • First the centrally funded RSEs who provide support for BEAR’s main services and offer the BEAR Software Advice/Coding/Coaching services.
  • Secondly are the college-funded RSEs who are line-managed in the RSG but work exclusively for the relevant college or academic unit.
  • Thirdly the new pool of grant-funded RSEs will be available for including in grant applications, and will grow over time as more RSEs are recruited to it. Please discuss your grant application with us before including a pool RSE in the proposal. See below for more information on including a BEAR RSE in grant applications.
  • Fourthly, some research groups will continue to recruit and manage their own RSEs, but we are now offering the option of a formal “dotted line” to the RSG to assist with managing the RSEs.
  • Finally some RSEs will continue to work independently of the RSG, meeting up informally at events such as the Academic Programmers Special Interest Group.

Grant-funded RSEs

Here we set out three options for including an RSE in a grant application.

Option 1: Independent RSE

Here a research group would include either a named existing member of the research group, or a new anonymous RSE on a grant proposal. If a new anonymous RSE is included then they would then be recruited by the research group on the award of the grant, probably at 1.0 FTE. The new RSE would probably be fixed term (for the life of the grant) and might be academic (governed by the  FEC model and thus including the estates charge as well as employment overheads) or academic related (including the employment overheads but without the estates charge).

It is worth noting that advertising an RSE job as an academic post may attract different candidates from an academic-related post.

It can also be valuable to mention the “free” BEAR services in the grant application, such as the free BEAR Software engagements or BlueBEAR, Research Data Store, CaStLeS, etc. These are centrally funded by the university and thus an important university contribution to a research project.

Option 2: Dotted line to RSG

This option is similar to Option 1, but in this case the research group and the RSG could work together to recruit the RSE. The RSE would have a “dotted line” to the RSG, providing some formal line management from the RSG and a direct community of colleagues. These RSEs would be able to participate in certain RSG meetings and have direct access to the RSG’s RSEs to ask questions etc.

Option 3: RSG pool of RSEs

If a suitable RSE is available for inclusion in a grant application then they could be named on the application. Otherwise a new RSE could be hired by the RSG if a grant is awarded.

This model allows for an RSE’s inclusion on a grant for any reasonable amount of time, i.e. 0.1 to 1.0 FTE – or even lower such as “six weeks in June/July 2022”. The RSG will manage the availability of its RSEs to meet its commitments.

In the situation where a new RSE needs to be hired and the grant is funding less than 1.0 FTE then the RSG would seek to combine two or more grants to create a single post – or failing that may be able to fund the remainder of the post from its own resources. Please note that this is not guaranteed, but a commitment will be made on a case by case basis.

All RSG pool RSEs are academic related, and so do not attract the estates charge. They are line managed by the RSG, while their tasks are overseen (or perhaps specified) by the project principal investigator(s).

Important information

If you are considering including an RSE on a grant project please get in touch with us at an early stage by emailing bear-software@contacts.bham.ac.uk .

We cannot guarantee to supply grant-funded RSE time if we were not consulted prior to the bid being submitted to the funding body. Nevertheless, if you find yourself in this position do get in touch and we will try to help.

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