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Data+ 2020: Request for Proposals

Data+ 2020: Request for Proposals

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Data+ is a ten-week summer research experience that welcomes Duke under- graduates interested in exploring new data-driven approaches to interdisciplinary challenges.

Students join small project teams, collaborating alongside other teams in a communal environment. They learn how to marshal, analyze, and visualize data, while gaining broad exposure to the modern world of data science. In Summer 2019 there were 30 such teams, and they all worked together in Gross Hall, sitting in dedicated workspace provided by the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke (iiD), the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI), and the Energy Initiative. Each undergraduate participant receives a $5,000 stipend.

Each summer, Data+ runs from late-May until the first few days of August. As the communal atmosphere is essential for student success, please note that Data+ projects only run during these ten weeks, and that all student participants are required to contribute full-time efforts (no employment, no other classes).

This document is a call-for-proposals for faculty-sponsored Data+ projects in the Summer 2020 edition of Data+. We are especially interested in proposals that involve a partner from outside the academy, or a faculty member from a different discipline. We also encourage proposals that involve previously untested ideas or un-analyzed datasets, and we hope that the Data+ team can make a contribution with important proof-of-principle work that may lead to more substantial faculty work and/or connections in the future. We also welcome proposals that will lead to the undergraduates creating tools that might be used in the classroom or that might facilitate community engagement with data and data-driven questions.

Deadline and Contact

The deadline for completing this application is November 4th, 2019, 5 pm. If you would like help in developing your proposal, please contact Paul Bendich (

How to Apply

To apply, please prepare a document (three pages maximum) that responds to the following prompts, ideally in this order.

Name of Project: Name of Project: Please use a short name that succinctly describes the nature of the project and is not overly technical. If your project is selected for Data+, then this title will be used for the project web page and project listings.

Summary: Please write a project summary, including the basic ideas behind the proposal.

Faculty Leads: Data+ is especially interested in projects that connect faculty from distinct disciplines, as well as projects that enable faculty to branch out in new directions. Please describe the intended faculty leads, and the expected benefits from their participation.

Mentoring: Day-to-day faculty involvement in Data+ is not expected. Instead, each Data+ project has a mentor, usually a graduate student or post-doc, who is on hand to give the student team more focused guidance. The time commitment tends to be 5-7 hours per week, and funding is generally available to cover this person’s time. If you have a mentor in mind, please indicate who this is and why they are well-suited. If you do not, please describe the skills you would like this person to have (we are generally able to find faculty-mentor matches)

Goals: describe the intended goals and products of the project, in the following manner:

  1. Describe entirely reachable goals that you fully expect the students to achieve: these could be answers to a question, explorations of a hypothesis, and things of that nature.
  2. Describe a tangible product the students will create in the course of their research, which ideally will be of use both to further researchers at the university and to the students as something they can show off to future employers or graduate schools. This could be, for example, a good piece of well- commented software, or a visualization device, or a detailed curation of previously raw data.
  3. Describe a more outrageous goal that you would be quite (pleasantly!) surprised to see the students achieve, along with a plan for them to build a potential roadmap towards that goal. For example, this goal might only be reachable if you had data that you currently do not have, and the students might build a speculative roadmap towards acquiring that data.

Data: Most Data+ projects involve analysis of datasets. Some of these are publicly available, and some are not. As it is essential that students actually be able to analyze the needed data for the project, we are very interested in plans to ensure that this will happen. Please address this in the following manner:

  1. For each dataset that will be analyzed by the student team, please give a high-level description of the dataset (what’s in it, how was it collected, and for which purpose, how large is it, etc. . . .)
  2. For each dataset, indicate whether you anticipate IRB approval will be needed for student access, and if not, why not. If IRB approval will be needed, indicate whether a protocol already exists, and your plan for incorporating the student involvement. If it does not already exist, please describe your plan (including a timeline) for obtaining one.
  3. For each dataset, indicated whether it is owned and/or is being provided by an outside party. If so, please describe the intended path towards ensuring that students will be granted the ability to access the dataset (we are often able to assist in crafting Data Use Agreements with outside parties, for example)

Outside Partners: Some of the best Data+ projects have a partner from outside of the university, or at least from outside the traditionally academic parts of the university. This might be someone who is invested in the data or the questions, and to whom the students will in essence “deliver analysis and insight” Ideally, this partner will be able to come two or three times during the summer to hear updates from your students and provide feedback.

For each such partner, please describe their expected interest in the project, how much they would interact with the team, whether or not they’d be able to contribute funds towards student stipends, and please also identify a point-of-contact for this partner.

Please submit your proposal to Ariel Dawn ( by November 4th, 2019, 5 pm for consideration.

For more information, visit Data+. Check out some of the recently-concluded Data+ 2019 projects!


Durham, NC 27708 | 919.681.6019


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Durham, NC 27708


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Durham, NC 27705

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