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Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings

Building Community and Capacity in Data Intensive Research in Education  (BCC-EHR)

Name Email Phone Room
John  C. Cherniavsky (703) 292-5136  855.37  
Finbarr (Barry)  Sloane (703) 292-8465  890.04  


Solicitation  17-532

Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after October 4, 2021. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 22-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.




As part of NSF's Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21) activity, the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) seeks to enable research communities to develop visions, teams, and capabilities dedicated to creating new, large-scale, next-generation data resources and relevant analytic techniques to advance fundamental research for areas of research covered by EHR programs. Successful proposals will outline activities that will have significant impacts across multiple fields by enabling new types of data-intensive research. Investigators should think broadly and create a vision that extends intellectually across multiple disciplines and that includes—but is not necessarily limited to - areas of research funded by EHR.  


For information about EHR fields to which proposals might be relevant, investigators should consult EHR's main home page. Prospective PIs are encouraged to consult the list of previously funded awards (available on the BCC-EHR Program web site) to better understand the topics that have been funded and to evaluate the innovativeness of their own proposed project.

The purpose of this solicitation is to encourage submission of proposals for activities that will enable communities to develop visions for data-intensive EHR areas of research. In some cases large scale data repositories may already exist, but the infrastructure such as tools and communities to utilize the data may be in need of development. In other cases appropriate activities may include the design of large scale data repositories and/or associated analytic tools.

Data repositories could include traditional relational data, collections of interactions data, video data, or one of many other forms of structured sets of data. The primary objectives of proposals under this solicitation are to organize a research community or engage an existing research community to design and, perhaps, prototype data-intensive research infrastructure for EHR areas of research. The BCC-EHR program will not support implementation of such infrastructure. For the purpose of this competition, data-intensive research is defined as research involving data resources that are well beyond the storage requirements, computational intensiveness or complexity that is currently typical of the EHR areas of research. Proposals should make clear how the proposed activities will enable promising EHR research that would not otherwise be possible.

Submitted proposals for FY 2015 should focus on the development of communities, or the utilization of existing communities, to develop plans for data repository design or utilization, and to develop infrastructure (including analytic tools) within which identified research may effectively proceed. The NSF's Research Coordination Network (RCN) solicitation and past RCN awards may provide helpful examples of ways to structure community building activities. RCN solicitation requirements, however, do not apply to BCC proposals. While the development of a prototype is permissible, the focus of FY 2015 projects should NOT be the implementation or prototyping of a full-scale data resource, but rather building a broader community and/or capacity to design and eventually use a resource.

This will be the final BCC-EHR solicitation. Established research communities in EHR that have already identified the need for specific large scale data resources and/or associated analytics may also consider submitting to the Data Infrastructure Building Blocks area of the Campus Cyberinfrastructure - Data, Networking, and Innovation Program, NSF 15-534, or to submit a research proposal to EHR Core Research, NSF 15-509.

Successful proposals will outline activities that will have significant impacts across multiple fields by enabling new types of data-intensive research. Investigators should think broadly and create a vision that extends intellectually across multiple disciplines and that includes--but is not necessarily limited to--the EHR areas of research. Proposals will need to describe the bodies of data and other resources that will be involved in the infrastructure. Infrastructure includes data, data structures, metadata, analytics and those tools needed to facilitate research in EHR areas of research. Investigators should think creatively about data and consider new data collections, repurposed existing data, and new approaches to data as appropriate for the research questions of interest. Novel approaches are encouraged. Proposals should have a well-defined work plan with steps sufficiently detailed.

An explicit goal of this competition is to focus on building the community and capacity to enable broad and large scale infrastructure which extends well beyond a single discipline and which will be utilized by a large number and wide range of researchers. While it is acceptable, for example, to focus data collection on a single city or geographic region, the relevance of the proposed work should be of interest to a national or international community.

Applicants should examine the following questions in an integrated manner, to the extent that they are relevant to their own projects.


  • What broad, important, fundamental research questions will be addressed?
  • What research communities would be interested in exploring these questions?

Information technology:

  • What kinds of data are to be involved, including the metadata and the broader infrastructure in which data are embedded? (The data involved may be newly gathered, newly aggregated and/or newly created.)
  • How will the data be collected? If the data repositories are novel (e.g., not a relational database), what would be their design? What new analytic or statistical approaches are needed to analyze the data?
  • What infrastructure is required to ensure access to and long-term maintenance of these large scale data?


  • How will the research communities involved in the project address governance as they relate to issues such as sustainability, access and ethical use of data?

Community building and identification:

  • How will relevant individuals and communities be identified and integrated into the project?
  • How will input be obtained and necessary networks established?

Applicants are strongly encouraged to include, as part of the project description, a discussion of any social and public policy issues that relate to the type, use, and acquisition of data associated with the large-scale data repository envisioned for their project. Topics bearing on these issues could include the ethical uses of these data, the protection of human-subject privacy and data-confidentiality, and how the broader social impacts of the enabled research can enhance the well-being of society and its members. Whenever feasible, the willing participation of human subjects should be secured by means of explicit opt-in procedures. The protection of human subjects is of paramount importance for many proposals to BCC-EHR; if the proposed project will involve the use of human data or data related to human activities, PIs should consult with their local institutional review board to obtain either IRB approval or official letters of exemption. BCC-EHR proposals will not be recommended for awards until and unless appropriate IRB approval or exemption documents have been submitted to NSF.

The size and scale of a proposal should be determined by the readiness of the research community: some may be just forming, while others may be ready to expand membership or to build prototypes. This solicitation encourages proposals from communities at all levels of preparedness.

To ensure the eventual value of the assets to multiple research communities, investigators are encouraged to involve researchers from across disciplines as well as scholars at different stages of their careers. Proposals should contain dissemination plans that include an outline of how the broader research community will be able to examine, comment on, and otherwise contribute to, or benefit from, the proposed effort.


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What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)

Map of Recent Awards Made Through This Program