CLARIN FAQ: The mechanics of joining CLARIN

Steven Krauwer (please use steven@krauwer.nl for the time being)
Version 3, 04-04-2007

Below I try to explain the basic mechanics of CLARIN with respect to participation and funding. The format is shaped as a FAQ. You may find this a bit frivolous for such a serious project, but it is an easy way to answer obvious questions in a direct manner. I will add new questions (and answers) as they come up. Don't hesitate to send me some.

Q1: Is there a guarantee that my country will be present in CLARIN?

A: Yes, provided that your country is eligible according to EC regulations and that we have received a letter of commitment to CLARIN from your funding agency. As the time needed to complete budget allocation procedures may vary from country to country we do not require at this stage that the commitment letter contain concrete financial commitments. If (or when) we have the commitment letter from your funding agency and if your organisation has been appointed national contact point you will be invited to join the consortium. Your primary responsibility will then be to liaise between the project and the national research community. You may also be assigned other responsibilities at start-up or later on. We will have at least one consortium partner in each country.

Q2: What sort of activities can R&D organisations from my country participate in?

A: We will set up working groups, expert groups, discussion forums, workshops, etc in which every organisation can participate (WP5, WP6 but also others). We also anticipate participation from all countries in the Humanities projects (at this moment WP3), the adaptation of language resources and tools (WP4), services (WP2, where we anticipate to have a GRID point in every country).

Q3. Can you send us a list of possible activities from which I can make a selection?

A: Not at this stage. We will start the project with a relatively small core consortium. The first year will be very much exploratory in nature and be aimed at getting an overview of the landscape of where we stand, what the main problems are, what sort of expertise the members bring in and what they would be able to (and would want to) contribute to the project. By that time we will also have a better overview of the national contributions and priorities. During the first year we will certainly send out open invitations to participate in the execution of the programme of work. This will allow us to draw up a detailed plan for the second and third year.

Q4: I'm a registered CLARIN member. Will I get money from CLARIN?

A: This depends on your role in the project. If you are doing R&D work within CLARIN you will be funded (from EC or national funds). If you participate in coordination activities you may be funded to carry out to specific tasks, or you may be reimbursed for travel to meetings and events organised by CLARIN.

Q5: Who will be on the CLARIN consortium?

A: At submission time the consortium will consist of the following partners

  • the coordinator (Utrecht University)
  • for each WP the leader
  • for some of the larger WPs the leaders of major sub-tasks if they have been identified
  • for every country for which we have received a letter of commitment from the funding agency
    • the funding agency (if it wishes to be a consortium partner)
    • the national coordination point appointed by the funding agency

Q6: Will funding agencies and other organisations that are not on the consortium at submission time be able to join later on?

A: Yes. CLARIN is an open infrastructure and we have made financial and organisational provisions for inclusion of new partners. New organisations can join

  • if they have been invited to participate, and allocated a budget and a task in one of the EC funded WPs for which they have accepted responsibility, or
  • if they are a funding agency, have sent us a letter of commitment and are willing to join, or
  • if the funding agency has sent us a letter of commitment and if they have appointed the organisation as the national contact point

Q7: Our funding agency has sent you a letter of commitment, but we are not the national contact point and we have not been allocated a task in one of the EC funded WPs. Can we still participate in CLARIN, maybe as a second contact point?

A: Sure, but not as a second contact point! A large proportion of the total EC funding for CLARIN will be used for "Coordination Activities." These activities do typically not involve R&D work, but will take the shape of organisation of or participation in events, committees, panels, conferences, meetings, dissemination, training, community building, etc. Any registered CLARIN member can participate in these activities and we will have a centralized budget to reimburse organisation costs, travel and subsistence. Organisations who will be assigned responsibilities for the wider coordination of such tasks and who will be allocated a budget may have to join CLARIN as a consortium partner.

Q8: I want to be in CLARIN and I want to use EC funds to do R&D in the CLARIN Preparatory Phase project. Is that possible?

A: Yes, but within limits. According to the Call for Proposals the focus of this project will be on achieving agreement between the participating countries on the joint construction and exploitation of the CLARIN Infrastructure. R&D work is accepted insofar as it is necessary to take away major obstacles for the design and construction. In the approach we have adopted we will use EC R&D funds to draw up the specifications of the infrastructure and to build a limited prototype to validate the specifications. The initial planning for these tasks is underway and we will invite a number of organisations to join the consortium in order to participate in this activity.

Q9: I would like to participate in the specification work and in the construction of the prototype. How do I get in?

A: If you are invited before we submit the proposal you are in. We anticipate that we will come up with a more detailed plan for this activity by the end of the first year, and we may then invite others to join this R&D task for the remainder of the project duration. Throughout the execution of these tasks we will invite all CLARIN members to participate in working groups and committees to discuss the specifications and the prototype (but this is a coordination task rather than an R&D task). If you have shown to have the expertise to carry out specific R&D tasks you may be invited to join these activities.

Q10: My field is language or speech technology rather than the construction of infrastructures. Does that mean that I am excluded from any R&D work in this project?

A: No, not at all. According to our project plan the specifications of the infrastructure and the prototype will not only be technically validated by the builders, but they will also be validated with respect to their suitability to handle specific languages, types of resources, and specific language and speech technologies. This part of the work may include coordination work (e.g. agreeing on specifications and ensuring that they take into account the particularities of your language) but also R&D work, such as adapting your existing resources and tools to the requirements of the infrastructure or developing new essential tools or resources.

Q11: From your answer to the question about the use of EC funds on R&D I gather that R&D work on language and speech technology for my language will not be funded by the EC. Who will fund this?

A: We anticipate that every participating national funding agency will allocate a certain amount of funding to the CLARIN Preparatory phase in order to ensure at the earliest possible stage that their languages and their research communities are optimally served by the future CLARIN Infrastructure. These funds will be used to support the R&D activities referred to in Q10 above. We have not suggested a lower or upper limit on the national contribution but it is evident that a higher contribution will give better chances to secure the position of your language.

Q12: I represent a small language community. Do I risk that (like in many EC programmes) all the funds contributed by the smaller countries will flow to the larger countries because their languages are more important?

A: No, not at all. It is envisaged that national contributions are spent within the country, on the basis of the normal funding allocation procedures in that country. From the CLARIN point of view all languages are equally important.

Q13: Who decides how our national contribution will be spent?

A: This is an interesting question. In principle this is a matter to be decided by the national funding agencies, because it is their money. But we have to keep in mind that the inclusion of the nationally funded activities in the preparatory phase was based on the need to validate the specifications and the prototype for all languages. This means that we should set up a broad and coordinated validation programme in which all countries participate and which should ideally cover as much of the spectrum of e.g. language, types, standards, resources and tools as we can handle. If we leave it totally free we might end up in a situation where every country focuses all its attention and resources on e.g. Finite State Morphology for Basque. We anticipate that there will actually be a lot of freedom, but a certain amount of top-down coordination is required. During the first year we prepare a joint Call for Proposals where we describe the validation and adaptation tasks that will have to be carried out for all the languages. Organisations may (individually or in informal consortia) respond to the Call. Their proposals will be evaluated by their national funding agencies according to the normal procedures (in concertation with CLARIN to ensure coherence and consistency with the project plan), and funds will be allocated and managed at the national level in the usual way.

Q14: If I get funding from my national funder to perform a task, will I then become a consortium member?

A: Probably not, unless it turns out that this is necessary for legal or administrative reasons.

Q15: I'm neither an infrastructure builder nor a language technologist, but in my humanities research I make frequent use of language technology. Can I be part of CLARIN? After all, I'm your target audience!

A: Absolutely! We will have special WPs reaching out to the humanities community and we hope to be able to involve many humanities scholars in our work in order to make sure that what we build is relevant for them, and also in order to show them the potential benefit they could have from using CLARIN.

Q16: But is there any chance for me as a humanities scholar to get access to EC or national funding for R&D in this project?

A: Sure. We intend to identify a number of experimental application projects that address specific humanities problems involving the use of language resources and tools in order to validate the usefulness of the infrastructure for the humanities and social sciences. We anticipate that these projects will be funded by the national contributions (with some support from the EC funds to solve generic problems). Here too we expect to launch a Call for proposals some time after the first year. These projects could be carried out by multinational consortia (with representation from the humanities) where each member will have to rely on funding from his own funding agency. Detailed procedures for this will be worked out during the first year, taking into account national funding procedures and principles.

Q17: I have been proposed by my funding agency as a member of the Scientific Board. Will my organisation become a consortium partner?

A: No, unless your organisation has another role for which consortium partnership is a requirement. Members of the Scientific Board are appointed as individuals, on the basis of their scientific expertise and standing.

Q18: What exactly do you mean by "consortium partner"?

A: We adopt a simple bureaucratic definition: you are a consortium partner if you have had to submit an A2 form, either at submission time or later on in connection with a contract amendment. All CLARIN consortium partners are CLARIN participants, but not all CLARIN participants will be consortium partners.

Q19: In our country we intend to create a national consortium of participating organisations. Will it be possible for this national consortium to join CLARIN as a partner?

A: No. According to EC regulations only legal entities can be partners in a consortium. In theory one could consider the creation of a legal entity (e.g. association, foundation) to accommodate such a national consortium, but ever since FP4 the EC has imposed very strict minimum requirements on the financial basis of such entities which makes it very unlikely that such entities would be accepted by the EC.

Q20: Will the CLARIN Preparatory phase fund the creation of new language resources and tools at all?

A: The short answer is no. In line with the conditions of the Call to which we are responding (see page 40 of annex 4 of the Guide for Applicants) the aim of this project is to prepare the construction of a service infrastructure through which existing resources, tools and expertise can be shared. The aim is NOT to actually build the infrastructure or populate it with resources. These activities belong in the Construction phase, when the real work starts.

Q21: But as you know the creation of resources is one of my real passions. Do you see any possible workarounds?

A: Not many, but there may be a few. If you read page 40 of the annex carefully you will see that what the EC had in mind with this Call was that the funding agencies would sit together and come to an agreement on the joint financing, construction and exploitation of the infrastructure. But we have agreed that we would stretch the scope of the preparatory phase as far as we can by including the specifications and the construction of a small but working prototype in order to validate them. To this end we will have to populate it with a limited collection of resources and tools. We anticipate that this can be done by adapting existing resources, but it may also require the (limited) creation of new resources if they are necessary for the validation. This is one way to go.

The other is that you might be able to persuade your national funders that it is essential to attain a certain minimal resources coverage for your language(s) before the construction phase starts. You could probably combine this with your participation in the validation programme.

The last option I see (but for the longer term) is that we try to persuade the funding agencies to include in the programme of work for the construction phase a resources creation component.



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* clarinfaq-v3.pdf: clarinfaq-v3.pdf

-- StevenKrauwer - 04 Apr 2007

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