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Request for Proposals for participation in the 2018 Institute

The Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, invites proposals from groups interested in participating in a unique collaborative program, to be held over four days in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in October 2018.

The Triangle 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, artists) to articulate and begin to address needs and opportunities in the domain of scholarly communications.

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.

You can learn more about the Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute by visiting the websites for previous year programs, blog posts found on the trianglesci.org home page, and the Frequently Asked Questions.

The theme for SCI 2018 is Overcoming Risk, and the 2018 Institute will be held from October 7 to 11, 2018, at the Rizzo Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Applicants should propose a team of 4 to 6 individuals who together bring a diverse range of perspectives to a particular project aligned with this year’s theme. Each year the SCI will invite 4 to 6 teams which, over the course of the Institute, 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 teams, in a mix of structured and informal settings. The SCI will in effect host a set of concurrent and cross-pollinating seminars, planning workshops, or development sprints on related themes.

SCI is neither a venue for showcasing past successes, nor 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, and discovery of common ground, all without fear of failure or the burden of having to produce immediate, concrete, sustainable deliverables.

Participants who are invited and funded to attend are expected to be present and engage in all five days of the workshop. There is no formal “reporting,” but teams are expected to share publicly, during the course of the workshop and afterwards, notes, observations, and analysis from their experience at SCI. These communications could be through a blog, academic paper, conference presentation, social media, video, podcast, or otherwise. Teams are encouraged to be creative.

If your proposal is selected to attend, SCI will pay for travel, accommodation, and meal expenses for all team members for the duration of the program, which will be held in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This also applies for international participants – SCI encourages teams to include participants from other countries, cultures, and organizational contexts, to help provide more diversity of perspectives – and SCI can also cover the costs for international participants to attend.


Send a document (PDF or Word) to scholcomm-institute@duke.edu by the end of the day on 23 April 2018 that includes the following:

  • Description (no more than 1000 words) of the topic your team wishes to explore, its relationship to the SCI 2018 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 (4–6 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 Institute.
  • Brief discussion (no more than 500 words) of how you might share the results of your participation in the Institute, and what follow-up activities or benefits might result from your participation. Please also indicate your plans to begin working with your team before arriving at the institute, if your project is invited to participate. In past years, teams that began to coordinate and plan their work over the summer (even if just remotely over e-mail and Skype) were able to get started more quickly and make more meaningful progress once they arrived at the Institute in the fall, so we encourage all teams to plan for this.

For examples of successful proposals from past years, see the Teams and participants category in the TriangleSCI blog, which features information about each of the teams and projects from past years, usually slightly revised or verbatim from their proposals.

Reminder: the deadline for receipt of proposals is the end of the day on 23 April 2018. Proposal review will begin on April 24.

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, the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN), and other partner organizations, will review and select proposals. Proposed teams 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 aspects 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, social science, or other backgrounds, and we hope they will. But the primary thrust of the program is humanistic.

TriangleSCI is especially keen to receive proposals from teams that are not already established and whose participation in the Institute may help to jump-start something new. We encourage you to bring together people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to work together, and to use TriangleSCI as an occasion to cross-pollinate between different disciplines, expertise, and perspectives. Teams that are made up exclusively of participants who are already working together, or who are all from the same institution or geographic region and could easily work together without attending TriangleSCI, typically are not looked on as favorably by reviewers.

Organizers of successful proposals will be notified by 4 June 2018 and will need to confirm their intention to attend no later than 29 June.

Please see the FAQ on trianglesci.org for further information.

If you have any questions, please contact scholcomm-institute@duke.edu

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