Open Call for Projects

Loudspeaker.jpg“Better Science through Superior Software” – C. Titus Brown

The Open Call is a free service that allows researchers to propose joint software consultancy projects with the Institute. We accept submissions from any discipline, and are particularly keen to attract applications from BBSRC and ESRC funding areas.

The most recent call closed on 29 April 2016, and will reopen in 2018.

It helps researchers who wish to improve their software, their development practices, and their community of users and contributors.

Who do we work with?

Since 2010 we have worked with over 50 projects from across all disciplines. If you want to know more about the kind of work we do in the Open Call, take a look at our who do we work with page.

The Software Sustainability Institute has expertise in every aspect of the use and development of research software, which means that the Open Call is flexible. We work with all disciplines, from computational biology to nuclear fusion, and projects from all funding agencies. We work with both software experts and beginners. We help mature projects and projects that are only just starting out. Our projects generally last between two and six months.

What can we do to help your project?

We can provide advice and effort from our experts on the use and development of software, the adoption and use of infrastructure, and the development and support of a community of users and developers. We can also conduct an assessment of your software, and provide advice on how to improve it - and enhance its sustainability.

How to apply for the Open Call

Proposals to the Open Call can be made at any time using our quick online application form. The proposals are reviewed two to three times a year (see the timeline below for the next review).

As part of the application process, we request that you fill in the Institute's Online Sustainability Evaluation questionnaire and include a brief summary of results in your application. This helps us, as well as yourself, understand any other broader sustainability issues you may be facing with your software in the context of your application.

We encourage informal enquiries and notes of intent about the work, which can be made to the Institute’s Research Software Lead, Steve Crouch, via the Institute contact email (

How it works

The Institute offers effort and expertise from its staff to work alongside your research group. We will help you to improve the long-term sustainability of your software and help you enhance your research software skills and practices.

A successful application means a collaboration between your research group and the Institute, with both partners bringing essential skills to the project. The ideal project will involves the transfer of best practices and the development of new capabilities within your group. Long-term sustainability of both software products and team capabilities will be a key criteria of assessment.

Assessment process

Proposals are reviewed against the following criteria:

  • How compelling are the desired benefits of the project on UK research (what level of impact will be made on the UK research community)?
  • Will there be an increase in the user or developer community – or the quality of interaction with the community?
  • Does the project show commitment to the proposed work, and is it clear that effort can be assigned to the work?
  • Has a brief summary of results from the Institute's Online Sustainability Evaluation questionnaire been included in the application?
  • How well aligned is the project with the Institute's goals?
  • Has the project reviewed the assessment deadlines (see below) and committed to provide information at appropriate times?
  • Is the project novel?

Assessment Timeline

Applications are assessed within one month of the deadline for submissions

  • Open Call opened on 22 January 2016
  • Deadline for submissions to the Open Call is 29 April 2016
  • Further information requested from potential projects deadline of 20 May 2016
  • Announce successful projects on 31 May 2016

Further information

If you have any questions or ideas which perhaps don't merit a project of this scale, then please contact us directly at