Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access
Title VI - U.S. Department of Education

Frequently Asked Questions*

Q. What distinguishes the TICFIA program?
A. TICFIA provides a unique opportunity to apply innovative technology to international information access on a national or regional level. TICFIA grants are longer and more broadly drawn than most program opportunities, providing the time and scope required to address complex problems, develop long-lived relations within the region, and make significant contributions to America's research and education infrastructure.
TICFIA projects collaborate with international partners, in contrast to Language Resource Centers, which usually work with domestic partners in teacher training and teaching materials development.
TICFIA projects produce resources with a national or regional focus, as opposed to International Research and Studies grants that usually address specialized language education or research issues.
TICFIA projects produce resources that support and enable research and academic efforts, as opposed to Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education grants that create and deliver model programs.
TICFIA projects often involve faculty from multiple institutions on specific areas of interest, unlike the 125 National Resource Centers, which have a much broader responsibility for language and area studies programs, usually at individual institutions.
TICFIA is also unique in expecting and enabling cooperation between grantees. Annual meetings provide the opportunity to present new approaches to presenting information, to discuss common problems in working with international partners, and to seek common ground for cooperation within the program.
Q. Is the participation of a library required?
A. No. TICFIA welcomes advanced, technology-based proposals that support all aspects of foreign-source information retrieval, data mining, and dissemination, as long as they advance the program's goal of addressing America's teaching and research needs in international education and foreign languages.
Q. Do TICFIA projects address specific research goals?
A. Not necessarily. Successful TICFIA proposals produce resources that promote research, study, and collaborative technology-based projects by grant recipients under all Title VI programs.  Because TICFIA funds so few projects - only about ten every four years - successful proposals help enable broad educational and research goals in area and international studies.
Q. What distinguishes TICFIA project proposals?
A. TICFIA is a highly competitive program. TICFIA projects aim well ahead of their target area's development curve, and create or enable access to resources that for technological, financial, or social reasons are not likely to become available in the near future. Successful proposals usually have one or more of these features:
they provide exceptional access to information in regions that are closed or technologically disadvantaged;
they are transformative, and change the way that information is presented, studied, or accessed;
they are enabling, creating tools, technologies, or specialized data that are necessary precursors to ongoing development;
they initiate collaboration in areas that have not generally cooperated on regional issues in the past;
they use innovative technology to discover, access, or disseminate resources that ordinary search engines and data aggregators are not able to provide;
they actively disseminate and enable use of the data or tools they produce, or serve as incubators for spin-off projects.

Q. What advance preparation is required for a successful TICFIA project?
A. TICFIA grantees usually have necessary agreements for collaboration, access to resources, and provision of matching funds either in place or reasonably assured before their projects commence.  While some ramp-up time may be necessary, successful projects produce usable resources for the full four years of funding.
Q. What are TICFIA's reporting and meeting requirements?
A. TICFIA grantees file semiannual progress reports with the IEPS on-line International Resource Information System, or IRIS (see http://iris.ed.gov ).  IRIS reports include detailed information on project status, exemplary activities, publications, technical issues, and budgeting.

TICFIA project directors and senior personnel also attend an annual Director's Meeting, hosted by one of the grantee institutions.  This provides an opportunity to discuss project management issues, and to seek effective means of collaboration between projects, and for dissemination and adoption of project results.  Proposals should include budget allocations for attending these meetings.


Q. How are project results disseminated?
A. Dissemination and reuse are key measures of TICFIA project success.  TICFIA projects invariably have websites, but TICFIA resources are increasingly found and accessed via secondary points of entry, or downloaded, data-mined, and reused in other federally funded projects.  Effective TICFIA proposals might address the following issues:
discovery  How can TICFIA resources can be found?  Are metadata schemes (such as MARC, Dublin Core, EAD, or METS) employed as appropriate?  Are data and metadata exposed to autonomous Web crawlers and/or other information gathering tools used by search engines?  Is 'deep' data embedded in underlying databases exposed if possible?
interoperability  How can TICFIA resources be accessed?  If appropriate, is a mechanism (such as SOAP, REST, or other means of specifying an API) provided so that other federally funded projects can identify and obtain data through computer-to-computer requests?
distribution and reuse  How can TICFIA resources be obtained?  If appropriate, are datasets, including collections of texts, images, cataloging data, or other information available for downloading and data-mining?  Are copyright restrictions and "fair use" rights both addressed?
persistence  How will access to TICFIA resources be preserved?  If appropriate, does the project employ a mechanism (such as the OCLC persistent URL or PURL) that ensures that URLs, URIs, or other resource identifiers can be resolved for the foreseeable future?
preservation  How will resources created with TICFIA funding be preserved?  Are standards or best practices for imaging, sound recording, text encoding, and digital data preservation discussed and applied as necessary?  Are open and/or published international standards for data formats used as available?  Are data repositories used as appropriate?

Q. How long must resources produced with TICFIA funding be accessible?
A. The customary expectation has been that all project resources will be maintained by the original grantee for at least three years following project completion.  As noted above, successful proposals address the use of permanent archives and persistent URLs, URIs, or other means of avoiding "link rot" and discuss how ongoing access to resources (which may have been provided by collaborators) will be assured even if the partnership is dissolved after completion of the project.
Q. Are copyright and other intellectual property issues addressed in proposals?
A. Yes. Effective TICFIA proposals clearly identify any requirements for citation of project resources, and identify and discuss any restrictions on reuse of project data.  Because TICFIA's ultimate goal is to make resources available to the American public and academic community, effective proposals may avoid overstating restrictions that would limit "fair use" reuse of resources for educational and research applications, both in their agreements with collaborators, and in their own websites or data repositories.

* This site was prepared by TICFIA grantee SEAlang Library for informational purposes on behalf of the program.  All information is intended to be accurate; but this site does not necessarily reflect the policies of the U.S. Department of Education.  Please refer to U.S. Department of Education TICFIA Program site.