Deadline Looms for International Working Groups

Deadline Looms for International Working Groups

Australian researchers may soon join international working groups being set up by The University at Albany's Center for Technology in Government (CTG) as part of its work to build and sustain an international digital government research community.

Backed by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Digital Research Program (DG), the Center is building opportunities and venues for international research discussions intended to help US researchers and educators advance their work through international collaboration. The deadline for proposals is August 22.

Director Sharon Dawes says researchers from around the world are putting their proposals for groups together, with a peer review process to select teams to receive support from the NSF grant sometime in early November. She says "it is quite likely" Australian researchers will be involved in some of those proposals. At the same time, the Center is completing a reconnaissance study of international digital government research which includes identification of research programs and projects in Australia. That should be ready by the end of August.

"In this particular effort, we are looking for research efforts that focus on international problems, such as drug interdiction or border control, or on comparative work that looks at a phenomenon or issue that occurs in different regions of the world that could benefit from research that uncovers universal principles," she says.

"Most digital government research around the world addresses challenges of burgeoning information and technological change within the context of a single country. Only a few investigations have compared results across national boundaries or tackled problems that are truly international in scope," Dawes says. "As an unwanted consequence, issues of growing importance in an increasingly networked world are not receiving the attention they deserve." The project takes a long-term strategic approach to build a stable infrastructure for future generations of researchers. Selected international working groups will work together for three years to develop joint research agendas on critical international questions, produce white papers on key topics, and initiate joint research projects to continue after a three-year start up period.

"The Center for Technology in Government is broadening the reach of UAlbany by pursuing exciting opportunities to address public sector issues from a global perspective," says University at Albany President Kermit L Hall. "By fostering collaborative partnerships, CTG will be creating an important new community of researchers that crosses national and cultural boundaries. We are grateful that the National Science Foundation has acknowledged the leadership of CTG in the international research community."

The Centre believes the relative newness of the DG field has mean there has been insufficient interaction among researchers in different countries compared to more established scientific disciplines. Most funded research around the world addresses DG challenges within the context of a single country. Only a handful of investigations have tackled problems that are international in scope. A few others have rested on comparative research designs that with the explicit goal of comparison across national, cultural, institutional, and language boundaries. Such international DG research efforts are still quite limited for several reasons.

"This is a relatively new domain of inquiry, it involves multiple disciplines - a challenge within a single country, let alone internationally - and there are very few support mechanisms and forums to engage DG researchers with their peers working in this domain around the globe. Furthermore, once a potential collaboration starts that could lead to joint research efforts, it is logistically and financially difficult to sustain it to the point of joint research proposals and reliably funded projects. Consequently, comparative and transnational issues in DG, which are of growing importance in an increasingly networked world, are not receiving the attention they deserve," it wrote in a recent "Scope of Work" document.

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