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Fall 2002 meeting
Shortly after elections are completed by the end of September 2002 and AIBS has appointed the remaining working group members, the working group will meet for two days in Washington, DC. The specific dates for this meeting are still to be determined but they should be some time between mid-October and early-November. The agenda for the first meeting remains tentative but includes briefings by representatives from NSF and existing monitoring and data-networking projects. The goal will be to orient the working group and allow them to plan future activities such as those described below.
After assembling, the working group will begin the process of developing a white paper that addresses the need for infrastructure for biological research at large-scales and various ways of acquiring such infrastructure. Such a document would focus on providing both a rationale for investing in enhanced infrastructure for biological research as well as a community-generated analysis of alternative means for acquiring such infrastructure. Furthermore, the document will describe current relevant programs for data management and environmental monitoring that will help highlight where future effort should be focused, assist researchers seeking collaborations on similar projects, and prevent duplication of effort. The working group will attempt to complete the white paper by the end of 2002.
The white paper will inform members of the biological community about existing observational networks and data-networking projects and will thus help to forge collaborations and help prevent duplication of effort. In addition, the white paper will provide a community generated explanation of the need to invest in expensive biological research infrastructure that should aid in justifying current and future programs.
The working group will be informed through a variety of mechanisms beginning with briefings by representatives of existing relevant programs during the first working group meeting. These briefings will be followed by an invitation to a 'town hall'-style meeting where select members of the working group will return to Washington, DC later in 2002 to hear statements by interested parties. Technical advisors will be employed as needed to provide additional expertise.
A tentative description of the white paper follows:
The white paper would begin with a section investigating the rationale behind programs like NEON by laying out the current state of our ability to conduct large-scale biological research and describing the specific biological frontiers that can only be explored with enhanced infrastructure. Further, the document would describe current, relevant projects and programs in addition to providing real examples of advances that have been made by working at large-scale. (See, for example, the NCEAS workshop on the relationship between primary productivity and species richness within North American grasslands.)
A second section of the white paper would explore alternative programs for acquiring the infrastructure needed to make the advances described in the first section. NEON would be one of several alternatives. A summary of NEON planning workshop reports could be included in the description of NEON as an alternative program. The paper could end with the analysis or it could then recommend that one of the alternatives be pursued.
Standardize NEON workshop report format
In anticipation of the need to summarize planning efforts in a concise document, the working group will develop recommendations for the format of future NEON planning workshop reports. Standardization of the report format into sections such as executive summary, action items, etc. should assist future efforts to summarize the reports. In additions, a common format will make the reports more readable for other people that have an interest in learning about NEON planning efforts.