Propose a project

If you need some advice, need a quick fix or have an idea for a project that might involve computing, audio or video components, please contact the department or individual members. We may be able to provide helpful information or contribute substantial resources to your project.

The purpose of the initial informal discussion of ideas is for us to discover the scale and nature of your proposed project and to identify the main questions that need to be answered, the resources available and the main constraints and risks affecting the proposed project. In particular, if your project is likely to include a grant application and you wish to have the HCMC involved, it is crucial that you involve us in the planning. The point of formalizing the plans is to ensure that all relevant concerns are addressed explicitly sooner rather than later in the process. It is exactly the issues that are "glossed over" or seemingly "self-evident" which inevitably cause major problems later in the development cycle.

Our objective is to maximize resources devoted to actual production and to limit administrative overhead to the minimum required for smooth completion of your project and coordination of our overall work flow. For those proposals (or components of proposals) that are outside our mandate or that we're unable to accommodate for operational reasons (e.g. we've no time available), we'll help you get in contact with others better placed to help you.

Does your proposed project include grant funding?

We works on projects which have grant funding and on projects which don't. If you are seeking grant funding for your project, you need to have approval from us or the Digital Humanities committee (depending on the size of your project - see below) regarding commitment of our resources or labour before you submit your grant proposal. Please allow sufficient time for us to work through your proposal with you.

If your project has grant funding (internal or external) and involves the use of our resources in its implementation, you will be expected to provide a modest financial compensation to us as part of the budget in your grant proposal. Further information on finances can be found on the formal project proposal page. When you meet with us we can discuss the specifics of your situation and work out terms with you.

What's the process?

Whether and how we actually do each of these steps depends on the scale and complexity of your proposed project:

  • discuss ideas
  • discuss funding (if any)
  • write proposal (if necessary)
  • review proposal (as appropriate)
  • do and document project
  • finish project and maintain or archive it

How big is your proposed project?

The scale and complexity of your project determines the degree of formal project planning and management necessary. We typically categorize the project as one of:

  • small (requires less than 1 day of our time and straightforward; generally need hours or days of advance notice; for example: help with a grant application, review a website, train new research assistant, fix bug in project)
  • medium (requires less than a person-week of our time and conventional; generally need weeks of advance notice; for example: modify the capabilities of an existing project, offer a short workshop or class, write the technical product specification for a large project proposal)
  • large (requiring more than a person-week of our time or is technically or administratively complex; generally need months of advance notice; for example: write a digital edition, write a teaching website, supervise production of large data set)

What you can expect based on the size of your project:

project requires less than 1 person-day; straightforward or urgent in nature
total management overhead : a few minutes, well under an hour

Outline
  • Discuss ideas: you contact HCMC (email, phone, in person)
  • Discuss funding: likely none for projects of this size
  • Write proposal: HCMC developer posts to the blog a very simple project proposal
  • Review proposal: staff member should be able to decide on the spot how we can help you and arrange for the appropriate equipment or people
  • Do project: the work is completed as specified in the propsal
  • Document/finish project: the documentation is typically an end-of-project post to the blog indicating what was done.
Details

The HCMC allocates hours every week for unanticipated small requests, so the turn-around time is normally within a few days. In urgent cases (e.g. your site has stopped appearing altogether), we will address the problem immediately.

project requires less than a person-week; conventional in nature
total management overhead : a few hours

Outline
  • Discuss ideas: you contact HCMC (email, phone, in person)
  • Discuss funding: in particular if you have (or are seeking) grant funding
  • Write proposal: you and an HCMC developer draft a simple project proposal - likely an email or blog post taken from the staff reviews the proposal within a few days; the HCMC developer you're working with responds to you.
  • Review proposal: HCMC developer takes the proposal to the entire HCMC staff;
  • Do project: work proceeds as specified in the proposal
  • Document project: posts to the blog on progress and specific technical issues encountered and solutions discovered
  • Finish project: the end-of-project documentation is typically a post to the blog.
Details
Discuss funding

If you have grant funding and if the HCMC is involved in the implementation of your project, we'll discuss what if any cost there will be to the project for those HCMC resources and what may be included as an in-kind contribution to the project. Each situation is unique and we seek to impose the minimal financial burden on the project.

Examples: we estimate the provision of a supervised workstation and related services at $9/hour of which $1.50/hour is chargeable to the project and $7.50/hour is an in-kind contribution. We estimate cost to provide programmer/consultant time at $75 to $100 per hour of which approximately half is chargeable and half is an in-kind contribution.

Write proposal

The project proposal will likely be an email or blog posting based on your conversation with the staff member. It will include a sentence or two on each of the scope, resources needed, risks and completion criteria.

Review proposal

For proposals of this scale, the HCMC will meet to review the proposal (normally within a day or two of the proposal being written) and arrives at one of the following positions:

  • Approval (possibly with conditions, e.g. obtaining further information or deferred implementation)
  • Escalate to Digital Humanities committee (if project scale/complexity seems to warrant)
  • Rejection (project does not meet evaluation criteria)

The criteria used by the HCMC or Digital Humanities Committee in deciding which projects proceed and when they proceed include:

  • further the research and teaching priorities of the faculty
  • incorporate current thought and practices
  • balance pure research and productive development
  • justify allocation of resources against scope and likely lifespan of product
  • balance service provided to all the departments and individuals we support
  • allow developers to work on a range of projects and technologies
  • maximize synergies arising from work done for various projects
  • optimize extensibility, reusability of code for one project with respect to another
  • optimize use of other resources provided by project (equipment, staff etc.)
  • provide opportunities for students to participate in research and development
Do and document project

In medium size projects there may or may not need to be communication as the work progresses. If so, typically it is by email, phone or posts to the blog.

Finish project

At the end of the project, the HCMC staff member you've been working with will prepare a blog posting with particular emphasis on information that will be helpful to people working on this site in the future or working on a similar kind of problem in another project in the future.

project requires person-weeks or more of time; unconventional or complex in nature
total management overhead : 3 or 4 hours for proposal, additional hours dependent on terms of project

Outline
  • Discuss ideas: you contact HCMC (email, phone, in person)
  • Discuss sources of funding: if your project has grant funding (likely at this scale) and if the HCMC is involved in the implementation, we'll discuss for those HCMC resources what if any cost there will be to the project and what may be included as an in-kind contribution to the project
  • Write proposal: you and an HCMC developer meet and draft a formal project proposal (two or three pages) which may refer to an even more detailed project plan (depending on the size and complexity of your project and requirements of grant funding agencies); the HCMC staff member will discuss the proposal with other staff members and may come back to you for refinement of the proposal
  • Review proposal: the head of Research and Development takes the proposal to the Digital Humanities committee for review - typically takes a month or so; the committee makes its decision and has the HCMC head of research and development reply to you.
  • Do project: the project work proceeds based on the proposal
  • Document project: the developer communicates with you as needed and posts to the blog on progress and technical issues and resolutions, in particular milestones reached
  • Finish project: the end-of-project documention is typically developer and technical admin documentation and any other documentation required by the proposal or plan
Details
Discuss funding

If you have grant funding and if the HCMC is involved in the implementation of your project, we'll discuss what if any cost there will be to the project for those HCMC resources and what may be included as an in-kind contribution to the project. Each situation is unique and we seek to impose the minimal financial burden on the project. Costs for student workstations includes office space calculated per square foot per year plus estimated share of cost of shared equipment used. Costs for programming time is calculated per hour.

Write formal project proposal

Assuming you've presented your project concept informally to HCMC and we've indicated it's the kind of project we can consider, the next step in the process is to create a short project proposal - typically a couple of pages long. This document can serve a number of purposes:

  • Constitutes a letter of understanding between you and the HCMC
  • Provides a level of detail appropriate for many grant applications
  • Becomes an executive summary of the project for other reporting purposes
  • Guides the creation of the more detailed project plan for those projects requiring that additional level of detail.

You and an HCMC staff member will jointly produce the project overview document. Expect to spend an hour or so with us to complete the form. If you're writing a grant proposal, you'll likely already have much of the information you need. The purpose of the project overview document is to formally document initial estimates of:

  • a brief overview of the objective(s) and nature of the project
  • the scope of the project (amount and type of work)
  • estimate of time
  • risks or constraints affecting the project
  • type(s) of product(s) to be produced (website, program etc.)
  • technology requirements, specifically what resources are to be provided by you and what resources are to be provided by HCMC
  • who is participating and in what roles, specifically what labour you are providing or hiring and what labour is expected from HCMC
  • estimate of costs, sources of money and any money transfers to HCMC
  • technical benefits to others: transferability, extensibility, reusability of processes, technologies, code or content

Get more details on the formal project proposal and forms you can use to complete one at the form for formal project proposal page.

Review proposal

The HCMC (for smaller, simpler proposals) or Digital Humanities Committee (for larger, more complex proposals) will review the proposal and arrive at one of the following positions:

  • Approval
  • Conditional approval (approval to plan or implement conditional on obtaining and considering further information)
  • Rejection (project does not meet evaluation criteria)

The factors used by the HCMC or Digital Humanities Committee in deciding which projects proceed and when they proceed include:

  • further the research and teaching priorities of the faculty
  • incorporate current thought and practices
  • balance pure research and productive development
  • justify allocation of resources against scope and likely lifespan of product
  • balance service provided to all the departments and individuals we support
  • allow developers to work on a range of projects and technologies
  • maximize synergies arising from work done for various projects
  • optimize extensibility, reusability of code for one project with respect to another
  • optimize use of other resources provided by project (equipment, staff etc.)
  • provide opportunities for students to participate in research and development
Do project and document

There will typically be substantial communication amongst the project members and documentation of issues and solutions in a project of this scale. The working notes are normally kept on the HCMC blog and more formal documentation may also be kept. You will produce milestone reports etc. as specified in the project proposal or terms of your grant, if you have one.

Finish project

At the end of the project, you and the HCMC staff member you've been working with will prepare information that will be helpful to people working on this site in the future and specifically on long-term maintenance or archiving of the project. You will also provide information useful to people working on a similar kind of problem in another project or people considering a similar project in the future.