Project Proposal Guidelines

Portland State University would love to have more high-quality project proposals than Google can fund, in spite of Google's enormous generosity with Summer of Code. Here is our detailed list of suggestions about how to write a Summer of Code proposal that will stand the best chance of rising to the top of the heap…


Please read Google Summer of Code Student Guide (at the bare minimum, its proposal-relevant sections). Bart Massey and other Portland, Oregon USA GSoC'ers helped to write this, and it contains much advice that was previously on this page.

PSU has some minimum requirements for participation in Google/PSU SoC.

  • Applicants must, of course, meet Google's requirements for participation in Summer of Code. Please see the GSoC FAQ for details.
  • GSoC should be your primary activity for the Summer. Based on previous experience, we will not consider applications from those planning to be occupied more than 6 hours per week outside of their Summer of Code commitment (including employment, time spent volunteering for other projects and activities, and counting credit-hours of University instruction). If you have any Summer time commitments other than GSoC, even if it's only a few hours a month, please note them on your application.
  • Applicants must be able to be in regular close contact with their PSU mentors via the usual open source means (email, chat, etc) for the duration of the Summer. While it is not necessary for the student to be in the same city, state or country as his/her mentor, it is necessary to have uninterrupted access to adequate communication channels.
  • Applicants must be willing to attend weekly IRC meetings, even if they are in an inconvenient time zone. (We try hard to make them as convenient as possible for everyone.)
  • Applicants must be willing to consistently blog at least a couple of sentences about their project five days a week at . Applicants who fail to do so consistently will be dropped before midterm.
  • Applicants must be reasonably fluent programmers in their target programming language.

Proposal Outline

These are the required elements of a Google / PSU Summer of Code proposal. Please include all of them: Your proposal should be in exactly the format we request. They are almost all explained in the chapter on Writing A Proposal in the GSoC Student Guide, but I've included a few additional notes here.

  • Name and Contact Information
  • Title
  • Synopsis (short description)
  • Benefits to Community (who will this project help, and how?)
  • Deliverables (what you will make)
  • Description A small list of project details (rough architecture, etc).
  • Related Work Could be as simple as a URL with a couple of sentences of description of things you and other people have done that are similar.
  • Biographical Information
    • Summarize your education, work, and open source experience.
    • List your skills and give evidence of your qualifications. Convince us that you can do the work.
    • Any published papers, successful open source projects, etc? Please tell us!
    • Please list any non-Summer-of-Code plans you have for the Summer, especially employment and class-taking. Be specific about schedules and time commitments.

General Notes

Your proposal should be around 1500-4000 words. One-liners are hopeless. Much above 4000 words and we'll never wade through it. Your proposal should be ASCII formatted, since you will copy it into a web textbox. If you want structured text or graphics, include URLs in your proposal, and make it clear why we would want to paste them into our browsers.

There is a high official limit on the number of submitted proposals, so if you have two strong ideas, please submit two proposals. We'll figure out which one we like best.

Do include URLs pointing to any information that would help convince us of your chances of success: preliminary project plans or progress, other projects you've been involved with that were successful, code samples, etc.

We are risk averse. It is better for everyone if your project is small and sure to complete; as opposed to a large-ish project that may not get done. Too small is an annoyance. Incomplete is a disaster.

Use existing open-source technologies in your project where possible. One of the unique features of Google/PSU Summer of Code is that it is a great organization to help with projects involving integrating open software (and hardware!) from a variety of existing sources.

"Pencils down" deadline for your project to be complete is mid-August. This will come sooner than you think.

Thanks much to Mick Thomure for taking some talk notes that captured much of the initial information on this page.