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AccelNet Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) Update

June 4, 2018

Today’s scientific enterprise is highly collaborative, networked, and international.  The Office of International Science and Engineering of the National Science Foundation (NSF/OISE) fosters innovative international research and education collaborations that catalyze discovery and prepare the STEM workforce for the benefit of society. 

As a first step in engaging diverse research communities, NSF/OISE invited individuals and groups of U.S. researchers to contribute white papers providing input on topics in science, engineering, and/or STEM education that are ripe for international network-to-network collaboration and hold the potential to accelerate discovery and advance research outcomes.  We asked:

  1. What current or emerging research areas would benefit from increased cooperation between networks of researchers in the U.S. and networks in one or more countries outside the U.S.?
  2. What is the value added of international network-to-network collaboration for the U.S. research community in the research area(s)?
  3. What other relevant aspects should NSF consider to strengthen international research networks in the research area(s)?
  4. List up to three terms that represent keywords of your submission.

The community response was robust.  We received 70 substantive white papers that fully addressed the questions posted. We examined these white papers to gain a view of the diversity of research fields and geographic areas represented in the white papers as well as the range of maturity of networks included.  Keywords Submitted with the White Papers were reviewed.  Based on these author-provided keywords, we drew the following high-level insights:

  • Research communities across the spectrum of fields NSF supports recognize the value of strategic international collaboration and are seeking mechanisms to engage their international counterparts.
  • Single-discipline as well as multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary research topics were noted as presenting opportunities for catalytic advancement of discovery.
  • Though variable by field, U.S. researchers are interested in international collaboration across the globe.
  • Regardless of specific research field, there are cross-cutting considerations in establishing or maintaining international networks of networks.  These include on the technical side, the collaborative use of facilities and infrastructure as well as data access and interoperability across boundaries and borders. Education and training of the U.S. STEM workforce has a central role in the activities, and there is interest in public participation in international networks of networks.

We also assembled a subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on International Science and Engineering to gain additional expert community input on network-to-network collaboration, international and interdisciplinary science, and the science of team science. The resulting Subcommittee report, Input on Accelerating Research through International Network-to-Network Collaboration (May 2018), provides advice to OISE on key considerations related to the both the research substance and operation international networks of networks.  This report will be available soon.

For more information, you can:

  1. Review the original Dear Colleague Letter, released September 2017.
  2. Review the Power Presentation for original DCL Webinar in fall 2017.
  3. Stay tuned to OISE Website for updates.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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