RFA questions

When questions of general relevance about the requirements and process of the Central Service RFA are received, we will post anonymized summaries of these questions and their answers here. Please direct any additional questions to jessica.polka@asapbio.org.

Bidders’ information meetings

Audio of February 24th, 2017 bidders’ information meeting. The March 29th 9pm EDT meeting had no participants.


Q: What will the governance model look like?

A: ASAPbio will release a draft of a proposal for the governance for public comment shortly. In brief, the current draft describes selection of a governing body by election. The slate of candidates would be selected by a membership committee of the governing body, derived from open nominations. Terms are staggered.

Q: Would metadata only aggregation (vs full text aggregation) fulfill the needs of the CS?

A: Our ambition is to facilitate easy and reliable machine access to preprints. Therefore, convenient access to full text is essential, but we do not wish to be overly prescriptive about the approach.

Q: Will the RFA result in the selection of a single bid?

A: Possibly, but not necessarily. As described in the RFA, ASAPbio reserves the right to explore whether multiple organizations, which may not have co-submitted a bid, could work together to develop a more compelling final proposal for presentation to the funders’ consortium.

Q: Are for-profit entities candidates for the CS?

A: Yes. All candidates, regardless of tax status, should be willing to adhere to principles such as openness and community governance as laid out in the RFA.

Q: My organization has developed software that is not open source. Can we use this to develop the CS?

A: All components required to run CS must be broadly available for other parties to use. If you have an existing proprietary closed-source code base upon which new code would depend, this code must be released under an OSI-approved license as well.

Q: Can indirect costs be listed in the budget?

A: Because we do not know the agencies and mechanisms that may fund the CS, we do not know if indirect costs can be provided. Please do not include indirect costs in the budget, but rather list all the costs of delivering the service (rent, utilities, administrative personnel, etc) prorated according to the fraction of your activities occupied by the CS.

Q: Can the service include disciplines other than life science?

A: Given the requirement for independent governance, the ASAPbio effort should focus on the life sciences, at least initially. We could explore ways to expand this to other disciplines over time if desirable to other scientific communities. That said, there is nothing to prevent the inclusion of other domains in the service if supported by other funding.

Q: Can the service provide commenting?

A: Section 2B.2C of the RFA reads: “Respondents are also invited to highlight other functionality they would suggest the site should support, although all features and functionality of the CS will require Governance Body approval.”

Q: My platform provides peer review services; is it a candidate for the CS in this form?

A: No. We wish to keep commenting and evaluation separate from the CS.

Q: My organization has a short history. Will it be a candidate for the CS?

A: We have no formal requirements on length of organizational history, but as part of our diligence process, we will need to make sure that your organization is in good legal and financial standing. Also, members of the organization must demonstrate past competency in undertaking the technical challenges involved in creating the central service.

Q: Are the stages of development described in 3A hard & fast?

A: No, we are open to different approaches. However, speed of implementation is desirable.

Q: Why is automated conversion requested before the screening tool?

A: We anticipate that the volume of manuscripts that are handled by these tools will grow over time. Our reasoning was that the screening tool could benefit from the accumulation of a training set. We are open to different staging approaches.

Q: Is ASAPbio available to provide feedback on proposals (especially regarding governance) that are being collaboratively developed in the open?

Governance is not part of the requested application. Funders have articulated that the governance should be independent of the CS, and it is currently being considered by a separate task force involved in drafting bylaws. These documents will be available for public comment. ASAPbio will not provide feedback on proposals. We will not be the evaluators of these proposals and do not want to mislead any bidders regarding the desirability of their solution. However, we are happy to clarify any elements of the RFA to the best of our abilities.

Q: How much technical detail is requested in the application?

The application should contain sufficient detail to demonstrate past competency with relevant work. While all details need not be included, the level of detail should be sufficient to convince software engineers who may be part of the review committee that the proposed work could be achieved.

Q: What is meant by item 3, Anticipated manuscript volume, in section 3C (evaluation of proposals)?

A: An increase in overall preprint volume will have a positive effect on the acceptance of this form of communication in the life sciences. Additionally, a high number of preprints included in the CS will increase the utility of the service. Therefore, we ask potential bidders to establish partnerships with publishers and preprint servers to effectively aggregate content.

Q: In the budget, would it be helpful to break out costs for certain aspects of the process, ie JATS conversion?

A: Yes, but it is not required.

Q: Are images permitted in the application?

A: Yes, as long as they are not used to circumvent word limits.

Q: Could you provide more context for the communications & outreach requirement? Will the governance body assist with this?

A: In order to ensure adoption of the service among relevant user communities, we are asking for the bidder to describe their strategy for marketing and advertising in relevant venues, including scientific magazines, websites, and meetings. The governance body would have no formal role in outreach, but would likely act as ambassadors for the service when appropriate as part of their normal academic or professional activities.