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Scoping Meetings

The purpose of a scoping meeting is to bring together researchers from several disciplines where there is a perceived need or a good opportunity to exploit modern developments in the mathematical sciences in other areas. A scoping meeting is especially relevant when different disciplinary approaches need to be integrated or where a shared language needs to be developed, for example when there is no strong history of interdisciplinary work to rely upon.

Scoping Meetings are not in themselves scientific meetings. They should be structured so that careful consideration is given to the possibility of making a proposal to the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC), along the lines indicated below, for a programme. If it is agreed that such a possibility exists, steps should be taken during the scoping meeting to implement this decision; for example by identifying organisers and key participants, and deciding at which INI deadline to submit.

  • The notion of a scoping meeting is not prescribed and in organising them INI will be sensitive to the conventions of particular scientific communities
  • All areas of research where there is a need for mathematical development are appropriate
  • Scoping meetings should not be so large as to be unwieldy in reaching decisions
  • They can be held in Cambridge or elsewhere, as is convenient for the participants
  • They can be cross disciplinary, or related to different areas within the mathematical sciences
  • They should involve the relevant experts in considering the possibilities for a full programme
  • They should involve relevant national and international experts with an interest in investigating the possibilities of a full programme

Scoping meetings can be held at any suitable location, in Cambridge or elsewhere, and should involve a manageable number of relevant experts who are interested in investigating the possibilities that would be afforded by a full programme.

Anyone interested in putting together such a programme can raise the possibility at any time with the Institute Director, director@newton.ac.uk. There are no deadlines for this type of activity.

Background

The Isaac Newton Institute (INI) has an agreement with the Research Councils and ICMS in Edinburgh that its main focus will be on research programmes of four or six months' duration, or exceptionally one month when a good case is made. In particular it does not hold one-week workshops (as ICMS does) and it is not a conference centre. Programme proposals to INI should be prepared according to the guidelines, by including descriptions of:

  • the mathematical/scientific background and timeliness of what is proposed
  • possible future directions and developments
  • the aims of the proposed programme and its mathematical content
  • the structure of the proposed programme and the role of workshops within it
  • balance of key personnel and early career individuals, researchers and gender balance
  • why the proposed programme is particularly suited to the Newton Institute
  • how the proposed programme might be of benefit to the UK
  • its open for business, outreach and impact potential

There are two deadlines per year for proposals, 31 January and 31 July, and proposals received by these dates are considered by meetings of the SSC in May and October.

It is often the case, and has been typically so in the past, that such proposals are prepared by a coherent group of individuals who have a shared view of the scientific imperatives for the programme being proposed and a thorough understanding of its scientific background, who are knowledgeable about the key individuals in the area and know about the centres of excellence, and are involved in relevant networks worldwide.

However INI is increasingly aware of areas where the need for mathematical input is widely recognised, for example in the Strategic Plans of RCUK and the individual Research Councils, but where there may be diverse perspectives on the role of mathematical thinking. It is to encourage cross-disciplinary cooperation in such circumstances that the notion of Scoping Meetings is being developed.

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