So you’ve hatched a great idea; pulled together a strong team; written a compelling proposal; beat out some worthy competition, and gotten funded. Congratulations! Now what?
Don’t panic. The LTER Network Office is here to help with every step of the working group process. The information on these pages will give PIs and participants an overview of the process and the information you will need to get started. But if you don’t find your questions answered here, don’t hesitate to write or call.
Working Group Award
Shortly after the working group decisions are made, the LTER Network Office will make a public announcement of the selected working groups. Communications staff, including Marty Downs and Gabe de la Rosa, will work with synthesis group principal investigators to develop a short, accessible summary of the proposed synthesis that will be posted on the LTER Network web site and disseminated via social media. We encourage PI’s to share the announcement with their deans, department chairs, and professional networks.
Planning for Remote Meetings
Many working groups use remote meetings to maintain momentum between in-person meetings. During the COVID19 pandemic, synthesis groups are relying on remote meetings for all interaction. NCEAS has compiled a set of useful resources to improve virtual interaction—whether it is your primary or supplemental mode of meeting.
In addition, we are offering two short workshops—on remote facilitation and remote analysis—to supercharge newly funded synthesis groups. LNO synthesis staff will discuss these options with you at your kickoff meeting. The Learning Hub at NCEAS provides a wide variety of additional workshops and training resources to build analytical, facilitation, and communication skills.
NCEAS can provide access to Zoom accounts to hold large working group meetings. Whether or not you use an NCEAS Zoom account, please aim to keep the LNO informed about planned meetings so that we can track progress, spending, and survey participants.
Planning for In-Person Meetings
Please contact LTER Travel Coordinator Ginger Gillquist at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your initial LTER synthesis group meeting, reserve meeting space, and confirm the names and addresses of participants in your group. Check the calendar of NCEAS working groups before polling your participants to be sure which dates are potentially available.
About 10 weeks before your working group is scheduled to occur, the Network Office sends official invitations, which will contain all the necessary travel information for your participants to arrange their trips to Santa Barbara (e.g. hotel reservations, guidance for booking flights, and information regarding visas for international travelers). Synthesis group PI’s will have an opportunity to review the draft invitation and provide a final list of participants with their contact information. Each participant is asked to confirm his or her reservation with the hotel at least one month in advance of the meeting date. The hotel will bill the Network Office directly for the cost of the rooms unless we have discussed an alternative arrangement with PI’s beforehand.
As the first meeting approaches, please notify Ginger (email@example.com) of any cancellations or additions.
One major advantage of meeting at NCEAS is the computing support that is available for synthesis projects. As the group leaders begin to structure the analysis, the NCEAS computing team is available to consult on collaboration tools, use of servers, analytical approaches, data archiving, and open science practices.
Julien Brun, the NCEAS and LTER scientific programmer, works with a small team of data interns to support synthesis groups throughout the process. PI’s and technical liaisons are encouraged to schedule a time to meet with Julien shortly after funding has been awarded to develop a plan for data gathering, storage, cleaning, analytical workflows, and archiving of derived products. Experience with previous working groups suggests that data cleaning and harmonization is the most time-consuming component of the synthesis process.
Analysis support from LTER data analysts and scientific programmer will be allocated among synthesis groups based on early notification of needs and requirement for programming or scripting expertise.
In addition to direct support from the scientific computing team, NCEAS offers trainings and online resources in reproducible data science for synthesis through the NCEAS Learning Hub. The LNO supports three participants from each funded working group to attend a 2- or 5-day training early in the working group process. Training for additional synthesis group members may be included in the synthesis group budget.
Please plan to share an agenda for each meeting about one week before the meeting starts. This allows NCEAS technical and administrative staff and LTER program staff to plan your support. As you start to develop your working group agenda, there are a few items to bear in mind.
Sometime on the first day, plan time for the following presentations:
- NCEAS logistics and introductions to admin and computing staff (5 min)
- Introduction to the LNO by Director Marty Downs or Synthesis Lead Jenn Caselle, including a brief presentation on the role of diversity in effective collaboration and a pre-meeting survey (20 min)
- At least once during each synthesis group, we request that one or more participants present at the NCEAS Wednesday Roundtable, organized by the NCEAS community of early career researchers.
Interaction between the visiting working groups and the NCEAS resident community is a source of energy and ideas for both. The presentation can be an introduction to the work of the synthesis group or a time to present new research that is also relevant for the synthesis group colleagues.
Before you go:
- On the last day of each meeting, please set aside 15 minutes for participants to complete a post-meeting survey before they leave Santa Barbara.
While You Are Here
NCEAS has 2 large conference rooms that can accommodate 20 people, with a maximum of 24. Both conference rooms are equipped with LCD screens, white boards, internet access, and videoconference capability. Please contact our IT staff in advance of your meeting for further details or to plan for remote participants.
NCEAS provides coffee and tea throughout the day and snacks for morning and afternoon breaks. Typically, groups eat their lunches and dinners together at one of the many near-by restaurants. With some notice, NCEAS staff can make group reservations and arrange food delivery for working lunches. (But remember, breaks and changes of scene improve creativity and problem solving!) Additional information on local attractions is available on the NCEAS web site.
Fun and Community
Santa Barbara is a great destination, with fine restaurants, museums, historical sites and many outdoor activities. The welcome site for first time visitors and residents give a brief overview or just ask any of the staff or residents. We love sharing our city with newcomers.
After you go
The offer letter accepting your synthesis group proposal outlines the budget for your meetings at NCEAS and offsite. You will be responsible for monitoring spending and ensuring that your group stays within this approved amount. Working group leaders will receive quarterly updates on remaining funds available.
- Travel, including: flights, parking, taxi, ride-share or public transportation. Rental cars require pre-approval.
- Subsistence: Lodging and per diem for the days of the synthesis group meeting and necessary travel days.
- Modest expenses for room and technology rental when groups are scheduled at an alternate location. NSF does not consider these to be participant support, so they will incur additional overhead.
- Training in collaborative and reproducible research techniques for synthesis group members.
- Open access charges for publications resulting from the synthesis
Not allowable expenses:
- Salary, either for PIs or hourly workers
- Expenses incurred at other institutions
- Travel or registration to present synthesis results
Reimbursement Policies and Procedures
NCEAS sends personalized reimbursement forms to all expected participants by email about a week before each meeting. A generic reimbursement form can also be accessed on the LTER Network Office web site. Unless your budget has other restrictions in place, participants will receive a maximum of $55/day to cover food (no alcohol) expenses. The hotel charges will be directly billed to the LNO. Participants should record all meal expenses and save any miscellaneous travel receipts during their stay. NCEAS requests that reimbursement forms be submitted within 15 days after the conclusion of each meeting.
Publications, Outputs, and Acknowledgements
Derived datasets must be archived in a publicly accessible database that is indexed by DataONE. The Environmental Data Initiative is likely to be the first choice for LTER-related products, but investigators may choose other repositories to improve access by specific communities of researchers. For instance, the Arctic Data Repository for Arctic data in or GenBank for genomic data.
As groups begin wrapping up work and planning publications, please include LNO Director Marty Downs and LNO Communications Officer Gabe de la Rosa in conversations so that they can anticipate outreach opportunities and assist in framing and communicating results for diverse audiences.
Every three months, NCEAS Deputy Director Courtney Scarborough will also ask lead investigators for information on upcoming publications and outputs. Please respond to Courtney’s inquiry in a timely way. This information helps NCEAS track the long-term results of synthesis groups.