What is the process like?
In general, Million Concepts will be a subcontractor. We will help you refine the scope of your project and develop an initial requirements definition from which we will make a time and cost estimate. The estimate will be the basis for a Statement of Work and contract with your organization.
Depending on the nature of the project, parts of it may eventually be handled by any combination of people from our Talent Pool — successful researchers and specialists in their own right. Someone at Million Concepts will fill the role of project manager, though, and your primary point of contact will never change.
To the extent that it is reasonable and practicable, we will try to adhere to industry best practices for software systems engineering at every stage.
How does it get paid for?
The easiest way to pay for research software development is to plan for it in the budget of your original research grant proposal in a way similar to what you would do if you needed someone to develop any new piece of laboratory equipment. We are happy (and prefer) to become involved in exciting research projects at the pre-proposal stage. So if you are planning to write a grant proposal with any kind of software component, contact us today.
If your project is already funded but you’ve found yourself in need of professional software engineering, there may be some leeway in how your grant money can be used — ask your grant manager — or alternative sources of funding. Your situation is likely to be unique. We will work with you to provide useful software solutions on a budget.
Every institution and agency has different policies and procedures for outside contracting. You should contact your buyer, grant manager, or the person responsible for managing funds in your organization to find out how it will work in your case. We will make every effort to adapt to your organization’s policies.
Who owns the software?
In general, we believe that whoever pays for the software development owns the software and can do with it as they please. What can and cannot be done with the software may be limited by the terms of your grant or policies of your organization or funding agency or by licenses on preexisting software used in the development of new software. We are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice, but our philosophical position is that all software generated by and for scientific research paid for with public funds should be released under the most liberal license possible and ideally into the public domain.
What will my undergrads / grad students / postdocs do?
You mean if they’re not spending all of their time writing software? We hope they’ll be doing more science!