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Request for Proposals for participation in the 2020 Institute

Note: Sadly, we must announce that this year’s Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute will be canceled due to the ongoing uncertainty over the spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19 and the health, travel, and economic constraints related to it. Please see this announcement for more information.

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 in Durham, North Carolina, from October 4 to 8, 2020.

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 home page, and the Frequently Asked Questions.

The theme for SCI 2020 is Community, collaboration, and the commons, and this year’s program will be held from October 4 to 8, in downtown Durham, North Carolina, USA.

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. For more information about how the program works, see this page about what happens during the institute, and other frequently asked questions. 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 Durham, North Carolina. This also applies for international participants – SCI encourages teams to include participants from different 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 by the end of the day on May 1 that includes the following:

  • Description (no more than 1000 words) of the topic your team wishes to explore, its relationship to the SCI 2020 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. You can also see highlights and outputs from past year teams on these pages about previous year institutes. Please also review the answers to Frequently Asked Questions before submitting your proposal. If you would like advice about SCI from participants from past years, please email and we can put you in touch with several who have volunteered to be available to communicate with applicants. They can tell you more about what the experience was like for them, which may help you craft a stronger proposal.

Reminder: the deadline for receipt of proposals is the end of the day on Friday, May 1. Proposal review will begin the following work day.

Selection and notification process

An advisory board 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 cultures, disciplines, organizations, 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 in mid-June and will need to confirm by early July their acceptance of the invitation and their intention to attend the program in October.

Please see the FAQ on for further information.

If you have any questions, please contact


[ Photo by Jaddy Liu used under Unsplash free license. ]