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NutNet Guidelines for Participation

Nutrient Network (NutNet) Guidelines

Updated: 24 October 2011

1.      Purpose

1.1. To implement a replicated cross-site experiment requiring only nominal investment of time and resources by each investigator, but quantifying community and ecosystem responses in a wide range of herbaceous-dominated ecosystems (i.e., desert grasslands to arctic tundra).

1.2. To collect data from a broad range of sites in a consistent manner to allow direct comparisons of environment-productivity-diversity relationships among systems around the world.  This is currently occurring at each site in the network and, when these data are compiled, will allow us to provide new insights into several important, unanswered questions in ecology.

2.      NutNet Structure

2.1. At its heart, the NutNet is a flexible, inclusive network of researchers who have all agreed to three basic network ground rules.  Network participants must: (1) fund project infrastructure and implementation at their own sites, (2) exactly implement the core data collection and experimental protocols, and (3) openly share data associated with the project in a common repository.

2.2. Steering Committee. A steering committee serves to establish general guidelines for the NutNet, including protocols, data use and timelines. This committee currently consists of the founding PIs (Adler, Borer, Gruner, Harpole, Orrock, Seabloom, Smith), a network representative (Firn) and the data manager/network coordinator (Lind).  Other network participants who choose to spend significant time on network-wide NutNet management issues will be welcomed into the Steering Committee. 

3.      Code of Conduct

3.1. Experimental site set-up and data collection

3.1.1. All participating sites must follow the experimental protocol use the available templates for data submission available on the NutNet website: Protocols & Templates

3.1.2. Any outstanding/unintentional treatments (eg. fire, herbivore activity, harvesting or mowing) must be noted in data sheets before submission. This will allow appropriate treatment documentation and sorting for confounding effects if necessary.

3.2. Data use

3.2.1. Data will become available to network members once compiled by the data manager at the University of Minnesota.  Data will be made publically available on a 3 year moving window, although requests for access to newer data will generally be granted by the steering committee as long at there are no conflicts with ongoing papers or proposals.

3.2.2. Any participant is free to use NutNet data for publication purpose, following guidelines listed in Paper Writing section. Data should be recognized as follows:

"Data were made available through the Nutrient Network, a project funded by DEB-0741952 (E. Borer/E. Seabloom)"

3.2.3. Data use for presentations, courses and other non-published venues should cite the NutNet project as above. 

3.3. Paper Writing

3.3.1. By contributing data to NutNet according to data submission protocols, you will automatically be included as a co-author on the 3 core papers (observational, fences, nutrients) if you stay actively engaged (following deadlines and rules for data submission, providing appropriate contributing concepts, etc...) and in communication with the lead author. If you find that you cannot meet these requirements, we kindly ask that you opt-out of co-authorship. 

3.3.2. Authorship on papers arising from NutNet data will be earned through significant contribution to the scientific process, including but in addition to contributing data. Final authorship assignment is the responsibility of the lead author of the manuscript. We strongly favor being inclusive in authorship. The detailed authorship guidelines can be found here.

3.3.3. If you wish to write a paper using NutNet site data, a working title and abstract should be submitted to the NutNet website and posted on the NutNet listserv for general review one month prior to manuscript preparation. Individuals or sites interested in becoming contributing authors in the proposed paper must contact the lead author directly. As previously stated, we strongly favor being inclusive in authorship.

3.3.4. If a manuscript is proposed and subsequently abandoned for > 6 months, other interested NutNet participants are encouraged to discuss with lead author about taking over the development of the manuscript.

3.3.5  While we encourage papers based on a subset of Network data, these should be conceptually distinct from the full NutNet papers. Subset papers should take special care not to compromise the power of the full Network by publishing on the main questions of NutNet with a subset of the data.

3.3.6 Disputes over authorship and manuscripts will be referred to the Publications Committee of Network members for resolution.

3.4. Proposal Writing

3.4.1. Proposed work should not compromise the scientific integrity of existing NutNet sites.

3.4.2. Proposal abstracts to use a pre-existing NutNet site for further studies should be posted at least one month prior to proposal deadline. Authors should kindly notify the NutNet coordinator of his/her intended proposal submission.

3.4.3. Permission to use other NutNet sites' data or samples in proposed research or manuscript writing must be obtained directly from the NutNet site PI(s).

3.4.4. The goal of the NutNet studies is to look at long-term community and ecosystem dynamics, so particular care must be taken to ensure that new studies do not compromise the long-term integrity of experimental plots and their comparability to other NutNet sites. If additional experimental treatments or sampling are proposed (i.e. seed addition or soil coring), all measures should be taken not to affect core data collections of the NutNet site. Particular care should be taken with implementing treatments that may ultimately affect adjacent plots either physically (e.g., shading of adjacent plots, alterations of water availability, or runoff of fertilizers or other chemical) or biotically (e.g., spread of intentionally introduced species, removal of e.g. important mutualists or pathogens). Care should be taken to record the location of treatment and mitigate the long-term effects. For example, noting the exact location of each added seed, removing introduced plants before seed set, and discounting added germinant/plants in final biomass measurements. 

4.      NutNet Annual Meetings

4.1. Three annual working group meetings of NutNet participants will be held at Oregon State University (2009-2011). Funds from the RCN will substantially defray the costs of one representative from each selected site to attend a meeting (travel, accommodations and meeting costs). Selected sites will be determined via lottery, to maximize meeting participation, given limited RCN travel funds.

4.2. Eligibility for RCN travel funds.

4.2.1. Each site that has contributed relevant data will submit a prioritized list of preferred meeting attendance, based on research interests.  We expect that this mechanism will allow all participants to attend either their 1st or 2nd choice meeting. 

4.2.2. We encourage participation of graduate students or postdoctoral researchers as site representatives. Of course any NutNet member is welcome to attend any meeting, if they provide their own funding for travel and meeting costs.

4.3. The annual meetings will serve as working groups for writing manuscripts. Participants should come with paper topics in mind. We hope to limit the time spent on data proofing during these working meetings. The network coordinator will have the primary responsibility of ensuring that participants have access to a proofed data set well in advance of the meeting.

4.4. A final, 4th meeting, of the NutNet Steering Committee and Project Coordinator will be held in 2012 (tentatively) to examine progress toward the NutNet goals, findings to date, membership trends, and opportunities to use the NutNet data and infrastructure to address novel questions in the future.


By submitting data for use in the Nutrient Network, you are agreeing to the terms listed above.