The goal of the RCN program is to advance a field or create new directions in research or education by supporting groups of investigators to communicate and coordinate their research, training and educational activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic, and international boundaries. The RCN program provides opportunities to foster new collaborations, including international partnerships where appropriate, and address interdisciplinary topics. Innovative ideas for implementing novel networking strategies, collaborative technologies, training, broadening participation, and development of community standards for data and meta- data are especially encouraged. RCN awards are not meant to support existing networks; nor are they meant to support the activities of established collaborations. RCN awards also do not support primary research. Rather, the RCN program supports the means by which investigators can share information and ideas; coordinate ongoing or planned research activities; foster synthesis and new collaborations; develop community standards; and in other ways advance science and education through communication and sharing of ideas. Additional information about the RCN program and its impacts may be found in Porter et al. 2012 Research Coordination Networks: Evidence of the relationship between funded interdisciplinary networking and scholarly impact. BioScience, 62: 282-288
Proposed networking activities directed to the RCN program should focus on a theme to give coherence to the collaboration, such as a broad research question or a particular technology or a unique approach to address a current challenge. PIs are encouraged to consider approaches that enhance the geographic diversity of participation in the chosen theme.
Participating programs in the Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO), Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), Geosciences (GEO), STEM Education (EDU), Engineering (ENG), Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE), and Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) will accept RCN proposals. PIs are encouraged to discuss suitability of an RCN topic with a program officer that manages the appropriate program. For proposals submitted to the CISE, ENG, SBE and TIP directorates consultation PRIOR to submission is mandatory (see Proposal Preparation instructions for supplementary documents). The NSF Growing Research Access for Nationally Transformative Equity and Diversity (NSF GRANTED) program welcomes inquiries about potential RCN proposals aimed at strengthening the capability of institutions of higher education to develop, submit, and manage research proposals and awards.
Other NSF solicitations accept proposals similar to RCN but for narrowly defined themes. Please see section IX. Other Information of this solicitation for a listing of these programs. PIs are strongly advised to contact the appropriate Program Officer before submitting an RCN proposal.