Request for Proposals for participation in the 2014 Institute

The Scholarly Communication Institute, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, invites proposals from groups interested in participating in a series of seminars, discussions, presentations, and workshops, to be held over four days in Chapel Hill, NC, in November 2014.

The SCI aims to bring together groups of scholars, information scientists, librarians, publishers, technologists, and others from both inside and outside academia (i.e., journalists, industry, non-profit organizations, museums, independent researchers) to articulate and begin to address needs and opportunities in the domain of scholarly communications.

The SCI is not a traditional conference, but rather a forum for teams of individuals from diverse backgrounds to devote concentrated time to defining shared challenges, exploring creative strategies, and forging new collaborations, in a spirit of bold and open experimentation, and focused on one or more of a set of annually changing themes.

The theme for SCI 2014 is Scholarship and the Crowd, and the 2014 Institute will be held from November 9 to 13.

Applicants will propose a Working Group of 3 to 8 individuals who together bring a diverse range of perspectives to a particular theme. Each year the SCI will accept 3 to 5 Working Groups which, over the course of four days, will help shape the agenda, creating space for both discussing and doing, in large groups and small, and for fruitful dialogue both within and across Working Groups, in a mix of structured and informal settings. The SCI will in effect host a set of concurrent and cross-pollinating seminars or development sprints on related themes.

The SCI is neither a venue for showcasing past successes, or implementing projects that are already on the drawing board; nor is it an occasion for invitees to speak to an agenda predetermined by a conference organizer. Rather, the SCI will offer the time, freedom, and diversity of participants to foster intellectual risk taking, collaborative and creative speculation, bridging of institutional divides, germination of actionable ideas, cultivation of new networks, discovery of common ground, all without fear of failure or the burden of having to produce immediate, concrete, sustainable deliverables.

Participants are expected to attend and engage in all four days of the workshop. There is no formal “reporting,” but Working Groups are expected to share publicly, during the course of the workshop and/or afterwards, notes, observations, and analysis from the workshop. These communications could be through a blog, academic paper, conference presentation, social media, video, or otherwise. Working Groups are encouraged to be creative.

The SCI will pay for travel, accommodation, and meal expenses for the duration of the program, which will be held in Chapel Hill, NCFor the November 2014 Institute, teams made up primarily of participants from the local area will be preferred, as funding for travel and accommodations is limited in this first year. In subsequent years, the scope will be broadened.


Send a document to by 24 March 2014 that includes the following:

  • Description (no more than 1000 words) of the topic your Working Group wishes to explore, its relationship to the theme, the challenges to be addressed, and the virtue of bringing together this particular team of individuals.
  • List the names and contact information for each of the participants in your group (3–8 people), including a brief description of their current role, background, expertise, interests, and what they can contribute both to your particular topic and to broader discussions at the workshop.
  • Brief discussion (no more than 500 words) of how you might share the results of your participation in the workshop, and what follow-up activities or benefits might result from your participation.

Selection and notification process

An advisory panel made up of faculty, librarians, university press editors, and others from Duke University, the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University, and the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) will review and select proposals. Proposed Working Groups that address a clearly defined set of questions and challenges, and that include a diverse range of perspectives and expertise are especially encouraged.

Proposals are expected to cross disciplinary and/or structural boundaries, engage multiple themes or challenges related to the transformation of the scholarly communications ecosystem, and include a diverse roster of participants. In broad terms, working groups are expected to have a humanistic orientation. They absolutely may feature participants from scientific, technological, or other backgrounds, and we hope they will. But the primary thrust of the program is humanistic.

The SCI is especially keen to receive proposals from Working Groups that are not already established and whose participation in the Institute may help to jump-start something new.

Organizers of successful proposals will be notified by 15 April 2014 and will need to commit to attending by 15 May.

Please see the FAQ on for further information.

If you have any questions, please contact