Research Software Development Support Program


Support & Duration
Software development support for 2-6 months
October 18, 2024 23:59 ET
Project Discussions, as required
November 18, 2024
Project Start
After December 9, 2024


This program supports researchers to refine existing software tools to improve usability and robustness or to build new tools, disseminate research software beyond the research space in which it is created, and enhance existing functionality.  The Research Software Development Support Program provides research groups access to a professional research software developer. The research software developer works alongside the research group on a part-time (up to a 0.5 FTE) basis for 2 to 6 months. Only open-source projects are considered for support so that we can disseminate research software beyond the research space in which it is created.  Please note that the program cannot provide support with discipline-specific research tasks, including selecting, evaluating, training, or testing machine learning models or other AI tools.  There is no direct funding available through this program, but rather access to time from the Data Sciences Institute Research Software Development Team.

PI eligibility assumes a budgetary appointment (at either the University of Toronto OR an external funding partner institution) and: 

  • University of Toronto PIs must be Members of the University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies and be eligible Principal Investigators, according to the University of Toronto PI eligibility criteria. 
  • External funding partner supervisors must be appointed as a Principal Investigator and be eligible to hold tri-council funding at their institution and be Members of the University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies. 
  • PIs can only submit one proposal to each round of this competition. 
  • All PIs must be DSI members. 

* Faculty budgetary appointments for the University of Toronto are continuing, full-time academic appointments with salary commitments from a University of Toronto academic unit. 

Applications are submitted via the DSI Good Grants application portal.

Register an account and select “Start Application” for “Research Software Development Program.” 

The application is divided into tabs; each tab includes a set of instructions and fields to fill out. These instructions are also highlighted below. 

Applicants will need to complete the following fields. 

Tab 1: Start Here 


Tab 2: PI or Team Info 

The Research Software Development Support Program will accept applications from single-applicant PIs or a team of PIs. Required info for each team member: 

  • Role (NPI or Co-PI) 
  • Name 
  • Email
  • Institution 
  • Division (if applicable) 
  • Unit (if applicable)
Tab 3: Proposal

Description (250 words)

Describe the problem requiring support from the Research Software Development Team. B. Scope (250 words)

Describe the scope of the required software: 
  • How is it intended to be used?
  • How it might be used by other groups?  
  • Why existing software is not sufficient? 
C. Status (250 words)

What is the current status of the software to be developed? Include an estimate of the number of current users and an estimate of the number and range of intended users after working with the Research Software Development Team. 

D. Workflow (250 words)

Propose a strategy for engaging with and supporting the Research Software Development Team to ensure a successful outcome within the intended timeframe. 

E. Cross-Disciplinary Engagement (250 words)

We encourage cross-disciplinary interactions to increase the impact of this program. Describe how the software could be re-used outside of your discipline and include a plan for such re-use if possible (e.g., describe a specific data set from another discipline that would be usable by the software, include a co-applicant and corresponding use case from another discipline).  Unit Head Signature Form 

Using the provided template, secure signatures from the unit heads for all PIs on the proposal.  

Demographic Survey 

Once the applicant has submitted their component of the application on or before October 18, they will receive a confirmation email that includes a proposal-specific link to a Demographic Survey. While this survey is required, when filling it out respondents have the option to select “Prefer not to answer” for all questions. All PIs on an application must fill this survey out, and have until October 25 to fill out the survey. Please note that the survey link is tied to the proposal, and all demographic information in our database is tied to past proposals and not to individual applicants. In other words, PIs who have filled out this survey in the past must fill it out again for this proposal. 

Researchers are invited to meet with the DSI’s Research Software Developers to discuss their projects before submitting their applications. Please contact to schedule a meeting. If applicable, please provide the team with any additional project materials ahead of time, including process diagrams, papers, PowerPoints, user stories, or other documentation. 


All supported projects must be open source, either at the time of project commencement or at some reasonable later time (e.g., after security review or manuscript submission).  

Applications will be assessed by a member of the DSI Executive, the software developer team and additional UofT staff with software development expertise using the criteria outlined below. 

  • Quality of supported research project 
  • Quality of the technology choices required for the software project, and requirement for new software compared to using existing solutions 
  • Project scope, timelines and goals are clear and appropriate for the resources of the call 
  • Impact and re-use potential of the software for research 
  • Fit with research software developer team skills 
  • Quality of plan to engage with the research software developer team (e.g., defining requirements, involvement with software development and testing process) 

During the review period, applicants may be invited to discuss their proposals in more detail with the selection committee. At the conclusion of the review period, five to ten projects will be selected for support. During the assessment process, information about applications may be posted publicly. 

Researchers that receive Research Software Development Support are required to fulfill the reporting obligations listed below:  

  • The Project and related findings must be presented in oral or poster format at the DSI Research Day in the year or in the immediately subsequent year the award is made. 
  • As a reporting requirement, it is expected that applicants respond promptly to surveys, questionnaires, or enquiries from the DSI on topics such as papers submitted to or accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals, oral and poster presentations given at seminars, scientific meetings, or conferences and competitive applications submitted to external agencies for funding, as well as software usage statistics. Applicants will be notified of submission dates and format requirements for this reporting. 
  • PIs will be asked to serve as reviewers for future DSI competitions. 

All application materials can be submitted directly onto the form. Certain fields on the form ask for uploads and require the following templates: 

For further information:

Professor Gary Bader, Associate Director, Data Management, Research Software, Advanced Research Computing, Data Sciences Institute, hosted an information session on research software development support. The webinar’s recording and slides are available here as are the PDF Slides. 

For more information, please contact: 

Learn more about projects supported by the Research Software Development Office here.