Research PortalResearch Platforms and Portals (RPP) Competition

French

Competition Opens Submission Deadline
September 23, 2020 November 5, 2020, 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time
Extension of this deadline is not possible.

A Research Platform or Portal is a set of community-developed tools, applications, and data that are integrated via a gateway or a suite of applications, usually in a graphical user interface, that is further customized to meet the needs of a specific community. Platforms and portals enable entire communities of users associated with a common discipline to use national resources through a common interface.

The Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) Competition is a peer-reviewed competition that enables communities to develop research projects that improve access to shared datasets, enhance existing online research tools and facilities, or advance national or international research collaborations. The RPP Competition allows faculty members and their sponsored research groups access to compute and storage resources beyond what can be obtained via the Rapid Access Service. For more information about other  Resource Allocation Competitions, click here.

Please read this year’s guide carefully and refer to the Appendices for the RPP Evaluation Criteria and scoring matrix. If you have questions, please consult our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. If you have questions about the terminology, please consult the Technical Glossary.

If you have additional questions, please contact us at rac@computecanada.ca.

Table of Contents

Eligibility
Submission Procedures & Deadlines
Online Application Form
Assessment Process
Questions & Additional Information
Appendix A: Scientific Evaluation Criteria
Appendix B: Scoring Matrix
Appendix C: Privacy Policy, NDA and Conflict of Interest Policy

Eligibility

To be eligible to submit an application to any of the Resource Allocation Competitions, Principal Investigators (PIs) and Co-PIs must:

  1. be a faculty member at a Canadian academic institution;
  2. be eligible to apply for funding from a Canadian granting agency;
  3. have an active Compute Canada account with one of the following roles: Faculty, Adjunct Faculty or Librarian.

PIs may simultaneously hold lead positions on one or several RPP projects and one RRG project, as long as each application is for a different project.

The RPP competition focuses solely on scientific gateways. Projects applying for the RPP Competition must:

  1. Provide resources to a larger research community via a set of cloud-based tools, applications, and/or data, thus enabling them to access national resources via a common interface.
  2. Be able to develop, operate and manage the proposed portal or platform with minimal support from the Compute Canada Federation.

Generally, an RPP project will involve cloud resources, usually through the development of a front-end gateway on persistent virtual machines, with possible backend compute either through cloud compute nodes or job-based submission to the large national Compute Canada clusters. Many platforms and portals also include large databases.

If backend compute resources are required for your project, they should be included in the RPP application. However, pure compute requests should apply to the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition.

Co-PIs and Collaborators

In the context of this competition, Co-PIs are any co-lead investigators in your project with a Compute Canada account. Both the Principal Investigator (PI) and any Co-PI listed in an application must upload an updated CCV with their application (see CCV Requirement section). To update a CCV on the CCDB, Co-PIs must go to My Account → View Reporting.

International investigators or colleagues without a Compute Canada account can be listed as collaborators.

Multi-Year Awards

Allocations may be awarded over multiple years (maximum of three years), subject to an annual review and availability of resources.

Important: Awarded multi-year projects do not need to submit a new application every year but are required to complete a mandatory annual progress report. The main applicant will be notified by email with instructions for the information required and the submission process. For more details, visit the RPP Progress Report page.

Submissions of the RPP Progress Report for 2020 start November 10, 2020 and are due December 11, 2020.

Multiple Platforms / Portals

Applicants can combine related platforms or portals into a single application (preferred), or may submit multiple RPP applications (i.e. one per portal/platform) if necessary. Applicants can also apply for the RPP and RRG competitions at the same time.

Minimum Requests

Only applications needing more than the amounts listed below will be accepted:

HPC Cloud
  • CPU> 50* Core years, OR
  • GPUs > 10 GPU years, OR
  • Project storage > 10 TBs, OR
  • Nearline storage > 10 TB
  • Compute Cloud > 80 VCPUs, OR
  • Persistent Cloud > 25 VCPUs, OR
  • Volume and Snapshot Storage > 10 TB, OR
  • Shared Filesystem Storage > 10 TBs, OR
  • Object Storage > 10 TBs

*If you require <50 core years but high memory per core, please use the following formula to calculate the Core Equivalent to know whether you should submit an application or use Rapid Access Service for your compute needs.

Core Equivalent =MAX(cores, mem requested / 4GB)
Mem requested = CY* mem per core requested

If your resource needs are less than the limits mentioned in the table above, you should use our Rapid Access Service and do not need to submit an RPP application.

If you don’t understand some of the terms listed above, please visit the Technical Glossary.

For more information about compute allocations, core equivalent and scheduler priority, please visit this page. If you have additional questions, email rac@computecanada.ca.

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Submission Procedures and Deadlines

Proposals must be submitted electronically through the CCDB no later than November 5, 2020 at 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. The applicant is responsible for ensuring that the application is complete, with all additional documentation uploaded, and that there is no discrepancy between the application document and the online form.

Following the review process, applicants will be informed regarding the status of their applications via e-mail in Spring 2021.

Apply Now
Pre-submission Consultations

If you are applying for the first time to this competition, we strongly encourage you to consult with us prior to submitting your application. Consultations should happen prior to October 31, 2020, to allow adequate time for support by Compute Canada Federation (CCF) technical staff.

The goal of the consultation is to:

  • determine whether the resources needed for your project justify submitting a RAC application;
  • verify the project’s eligibility to the right program (RPP vs RRG);
  • provide technical assistance with the calculation of the resources needed.

To schedule a consultation with technical staff, please send an email to rac@computecanada.ca or contact your regional support team.

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Online Application Form

All applications to the RRG Competition are submitted online via the CCDB (Compute Canada Database). Users must log in using an existing Compute Canada account or register for a new account.

Important:

  • You must apply with your primary, most up-to-date position. If you recently moved to a different institution and have not yet applied for a new faculty role in the CCDB, please do so before submitting your RAC application.
  • If you have more than one faculty role on the CCDB, please make sure that your most up-to-date position is set as your primary role. On the CCDB, go to the Account Details to see which of your roles is currently set as primary and, if needed, click on the Make this role primary button next to the new role that you want to set as primary.

Failing to do any of the above could create problems if your application is successful. If you have questions or concerns about any of the items above, please contact rac@computecanada.ca.

CCV Requirement

An up-to-date Canadian Common CV (CCV) is required for the scientific review process of all RAC applications and is also important for reporting to the Compute Canada Federation’s funders.

Failing to provide an updated CCV will negatively impact the overall score of your application.

The PI and all co-PIs are required to:

  • Upload an up-to-date CCV with any RAC application.
  • Report publications enabled by your use of resources provided by the Compute Canada Federation.

The PI can view in the online application form the date in which any CCV linked to the application was last uploaded and whether any action is required.

Note: while PI’s can update their CCVs directly in the online application form, co-PIs must do so by going to My Account → View Reporting. Once co-PIs have updated their CCV in the latter page, the status of the CCV will be automatically updated in the RAC online application form.

Please plan ahead to avoid delays or the risk of missing the submission deadline due to this requirement. Deadline extensions due to missing CCVs are not possible.

Please carefully read the CCV Submission Guide for further instructions.

Requesting Resources

Please visit the Available Resources page to see the list of systems available for this competition and to understand how resources must be requested in the online form.

It is extremely important that you remember to fill in the online application form with all of your requests. There should be NO DISCREPANCIES between your attached Application Document and what you request in the online form. In case of discrepancy, what was requested in the online form will prevail.

Application Document

Please use the following templates for the required document that must be submitted with your online application. This document MUST be submitted in .pdf format.

Important: Page limits will be enforced. Applications exceeding the maximum page limit allowed will be automatically withdrawn from the competition and not evaluated. Details about page limits are included in the first page of the application template below—please read the instructions carefully.

Download Template (Word) Download Template (LaTeX)

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Assessment Process

We established our annual Resource Allocation Competitions (RAC) in response to the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) requirement to award advanced research computing (ARC) resources based on the scientific merits of the research proposed. In addition to this requirement, we must evaluate the technical merits of allocation requests.

To meet these two requirements, RAC involves two review processes each year:

  • a scientific review, which is a peer-review process involving more than 80 discipline-specific experts from Canadian academic institutions. These volunteers assess and rate the merits of the computational research projects submitted. The scientific review results in a single score that provides a critical and objective measure to guide allocation decisions; and,
  • a technical review that is undertaken by Compute Canada Federation (CCF) staff who are responsible for verifying the accuracy of the computational resources needed for each project based on the technical requirements outlined in the application and for making recommendations about the national system to which the resources should be allocated to meet the project’s needs.

The overall process is overseen by the RAC Administrative committee, which includes representatives from each of the national system host sites.

Guiding Principles

RAC is guided by the following principles:

  • All applications are given fair consideration through both a scientific and technical review process.
  • Resources are awarded based on the merits of the computational research project presented, rather than the merits of the overall research program.
  • There is no direct correlation between the amount of computational resources needed and the quality (excellence) of the research outcomes of a project. Important research can be done with a small amount of computational resources.
  • The challenges arising from the shortage of resources and other constraints within the system are shared among all applicants.

To schedule a consultation with technical staff, please send an email to rac@computecanada.ca.

Technical Review

The technical review is conducted by technical experts of the Compute Canada Federation who:

  • ensure the appropriate system is requested by the PI and the required software is available;
  • evaluate application efficiency and scalability;
  • identify groups that may need help with application and workflow optimization;
  • identify discrepancies between the online request and the complete description of the project;
  • identify special software requirements;
  • provide a technical opinion on the reasonableness of the request.

Technical reviewers are required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement prior to accessing any RAC application.

During the technical review process, staff may require additional information from applicants and will engage them directly. In order to ensure an application can progress beyond the Technical Review, applicants are expected to respond to requests from the technical team within 48 hours of the request.

Science Review

All applications submitted to the RAC are peer-reviewed and scored. Scientific reviewers are required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement and accept the Conflict of Interest Policy prior to accessing any RAC application.

The final RAC score is based on the following:

  • the scientific excellence of the specific research project for which computational resources are being requested;
  • the scientific and technical feasibility of the proposed research project;
  • the appropriateness of the resources requested to achieve the project’s objectives; and,
  • the likelihood that the resources requested will be efficiently used.

Please carefully read the RPP Evaluation Criteria and scoring matrix at the end of this Guide.

Applications will be reviewed in one of the committees below. Applicants can select a peer-review committee of their choosing; however, we reserve the right to move the application to a different committee following consultation with the committee Chairs.

  • Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Computer Sciences and Mathematics
  • Engineering
  • Environmental and Earth Sciences
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Nano, Materials and Condensed Matter
  • Neurosciences, Medical Imaging and Medical Physics
  • Subatomic Physics, Nuclear Physics and Space Physics
Resource scaling

Resources provided by the Compute Canada Federation are limited; therefore, applications are scaled based on supply and demand.

A scaling function, endorsed by the Chairs of the Expert Review Committees, is applied to compute requests to provide a means by which decisions on RAC allocations in a context of insufficient capacity can be made.

For RAC 2020, this function was set so that only applications with a science score of 2.5 or higher received an allocation. Visit the 2020 Resource Allocations Competition Results page for more details about the scaling function and other RAC stats.

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Questions and Additional Information

For any questions on the RRP Competition, please contact us at rac@computecanada.ca.

You may also wish to consult our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page or the Technical Glossary.

For more information about other Resource Allocation Competitions, please see our main Resource Allocation Competitions page.

Feel free to  also contact your regional support team:

ACENET:

support@acenet.ca 

Quebec:

support@calculquebec.ca

Ontario:

CAC: cac.help@queensu.ca  

SciNet: support@scinet.utoronto.ca

SHARCNET: help@sharcnet.ca

WestGrid: rac@westgrid.ca

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Appendix A: Scientific Evaluation Criteria

RPP applications are evaluated based on the following two criteria: Project Justification and Resource Management.

Project Justification (50%)

Considerations for the evaluation of this criterion include the following:

Project description, objectives and impact

  • The problem or need that the research platform/portal will address is clearly presented.
  • The objectives and goals of the platform/portal clearly described.

Use of the Platform/Portal

  • The added value from the creation or maintenance of the platform or portal for the targeted communities is clearly explained.
  • If applicable – The level of interaction between Canadian and international research groups is clearly described.

Expected Outcomes

  • The application presents a clear timeline for the delivery of the anticipated outcomes over the entire duration of the requested resources and indicates the means by which these outcomes will be measured.

Progress over the Past Year

  • The application shows achievements, outcomes and/or evidence of progress resulting from the utilization of resources provided by the Compute Canada Federation over the past year.
  • When applicable, a justification for low utilization (or lack thereof) of an existing allocation is provided and deemed reasonable.

Resource Request Justification

  • The amount of resources requested is deemed appropriate to achieve the project objectives, and the technical justification provided is solid.
Resource Management (50%)

This criterion evaluates the capacity of the Team as a whole to manage, develop and operate the platform/portal, and the ability of the Team to make efficient use of the resources requested. It also assesses the overall feasibility of the project based on the expertise of the Team.

The Team includes the Principal Investigator (PI) and, if applicable, co-PIs and any Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) actively participating in the project.

HQP includes all research personnel involved in the project, whether from academia, government, or industry. The number of HQP directly involved in the management, development and operation of the platform/portal is expected to be appropriate to the scope of the project.

It is expected that applications asking for large amounts of resources will have sufficient funding to develop, manage and operate the platform/portal.

Considerations of this criteria include:

Funding

  • Funding is available to support the management, development and operation of the platform/portal and to justify the request for computational resources; when funding is not available, a reasonable explanation for how the platform/portal will be managed, operated and developed and how the compute resources will be utilized is provided.

Expertise of the Team

  • The Team assembled to manage, develop and operate the platform has the right combination of skills (where positions are not yet filled, a description of the position has been included).

Management Strategy

  • The proposed management of the resources is well defined and will provide broad access to the research community.
  • The process for resource access is well defined, and a credible strategy to maintain or increase the community accessing resources is described.
  • The proposed methods and technologies are suitable and well justified for the services to be provided by the platform.
  • The approach to sharing data sets across the platform or portal is well described, and potential accessibility issues are properly addressed.

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Appendix B: Scoring Matrix

Descriptor Range Definition
Excellent 4.0-5.0 The application excels in all relevant aspects of the review criteria. Any shortcomings are minimal.
Good 3.0-3.9 The application excels in most relevant aspects of the review criteria and reasonably addresses all others. Certain improvements are possible.
Fair 2.0-2.9 The application excels in some relevant aspects of the review criteria. Relevant aspects could be better addressed and/or need to be revised or improved.
Poor 1.0-1.9 The application broadly addresses relevant aspects of the review criteria. Relevant aspects of the review criteria are unclear, are missing or require major revisions or improvements.
Insufficient 0-0.9 The application fails to provide convincing information, has serious inherent flaws or gaps and/or relevant aspects of the review criteria are missing. Extensive revisions will be required.

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Appendix C: Privacy Policy

Confidentiality of Information

Compute Canada safeguards the information it receives from applicants. All reviewers are required to sign a Non-Disclosure agreement and accept the Conflict of Interest Policy. They are instructed to keep all proposal information confidential and to use it only for review purposes. All proposals are available for review by all reviewers and the RAC Administrative Committee.

Use of Personal Information

Any personal information collected by Compute Canada is used only to review applications. Such information may be shared with relevant officials in the relevant consortium and/or with their research institution.

Public Information

If approved for an allocation, Compute Canada will post the following project information on our website:

Full name of the lead PI
Department/Institution/Organization
Platform or Portal Title
Project Summary
Allocation

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