Charles Babbage Institute: FastLane Oral History Public Archive

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Charles Babbage Institute: FastLane Oral History Public Archive

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Misa, Thomas J


Survey Data-Qualitative
Human Subjects Data


This archive of oral histories provides a large dataset on the design, development, and use of the National Science Foundation's FastLane computer system. FastLane was developed in the 1990s and made mandatory for agency-wide submission of proposals in October 2000; it became NSF's core system used in all phases of grants management. With support from NSF's Human Centered Computing program (details below), researchers at the Charles Babbage Institute (principally Jeffrey Yost and Thomas Misa) conducted extensive oral histories during 2008 to 2011. More than 400 in-person interviews were conducted with NSF staff and managers as well as university researchers, sponsored projects staff, and administrators during site visits at 29 universities. In addition to traditional in-person interviews, the research team designed and built an online interview platform that permitted an additional 400 online (self-directed) interviews. Around 80 percent of our 800 interviewees agreed to make their responses available to the public, the basis for this public dataset of 643 interviews.


The interview transcripts are here stored in two files: and The in-person interviews are identified by PROJECT_INSTITUTION_NAME_DATE. For example FL_NDSU_SlangerM_2008-04-28 is an interview done for the FastLane project at North Dakota State University with Marie Slanger on 28 April 2008, while FL_NSF_CovertK_2011-02-15 is a FastLane interview done at NSF with Katharine Covert on 15 February 2011. Alphabetized in a directory, it is easy to group the universities together or to identify a specific person at NSF. We asked on-line interviewees to choose one of three roles (NSF, PI, or Sponsored Projects) but we could not be positive of their institutional affiliations. These interviews are identified by ROLE_Interview_AnswersNUMBER. For example, PI_Interview_Answers313public is PI interview number 313 (where this number was a database index number ranging from 300 to 800). Most interviewees, but not all, readily identified their universities.

Referenced by

Misa, Thomsa J., and Yost, Jeffrey R., Fastlane: Managing Science in the Internet World (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016). ISBN 9781421418681.

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Funding information

National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0811988, "Designing and Using FastLane: Distilling Lessons for Cyberinfrastructures."
Special thanks to NSF Historian Marc Rothenberg; to CBI research assistants Joline Zepcevski, Joshua Welsh, Siddhartha Shanker, and Jonathan Clemens; and to CBI's administrative assistant Katie Charlet, who organized this online archive.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0811988, "Designing and Using FastLane: Distilling Lessons for Cyberinfrastructures." This project description as well as links to all interviews both in-person and online can be found at

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Misa, Thomas J; Yost, Jeffrey R. (2015). Charles Babbage Institute: FastLane Oral History Public Archive. Retrieved from the Data Repository for the University of Minnesota (DRUM),
View/Download file
File View/OpenDescriptionSize
In-person.zipTranscripts of 322 In-Person Interviews, in PDF Format174.24 MB
On-line.zipResponses of 321 Online Survey Participants, in PDF Format131.81 MB
Interviews_2011_PI.pdfInterview Protocol Used for Principal Investigators53.53 KB
Interviews_2009_SPA2.0.pdfInterview Protocol Used for Sponsored Projects Administration staff57.24 KB
Interview_NSF_2009-revised.pdfInterview Protocol Used for NSF Program Officers/Staff54.26 KB
FastLane_README.txtDocumentation of the Study7.85 KB

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