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2020 Census to Ask About Citizenship; COSSA Releases Statement and Action Alert

On March 26, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross directed the Census Bureau to include a question about respondents’ citizenship in the 2020 Decennial Census. The decision was made in response to a request by the Department of Justice to add the question in order to support its enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, although it is unclear why current data is inadequate. Citizenship was last asked as part of the decennial census in 1950; since then it has been included on the census “long form,” which later became the American Community Survey (these differ from the decennial census in that they are sent to a sample of the U.S. population, not every household). In a memo outlining his decision, Ross stipulated that the question be asked last on the Census form. While the decision was reportedly made over the objections of the experts at the Census Bureau, the citizenship question was on the list of planned questions submitted to Congress on March 29.

The decision has raised concerns for those in the scientific community because the question was not part of the extensive research and testing the Census Bureau routinely conducts in the years leading up to a decennial census. The Bureau carefully evaluates all proposed changes to design and wording of the census to ensure that they do not affect the quality of the responses received. Asking about citizenship could alienate respondents in the immigrant community and potentially deter them from responding to the Census at all or answering inaccurately, resulting in an undercount of these populations and affecting the accuracy and integrity of the Census data. The Bureau is currently conducting the last major test of the 2020 Census operation, the 2018 End-to-End Test in Providence, RI, which is being administered without a citizenship question. Because the Bureau will not have been able to evaluate the impact of the question, we will not know how the question will affect responses until the 2020 Census is in the field. Given that the Census Bureau has a Constitutional obligation to count every member of the U.S. population, an increase in non-response would greatly increase the costs of the count, as more enumerators would need be sent to collect responses in person, at far greater expense than planned mail or internet outreach.

The decennial census is an irreplaceable source of data for researchers across the social sciences who use it to generate valuable findings about the U.S. population that can be used to inform evidence-based policies. In addition, information from the decennial census undergirds numerous other surveys and data sets at the Census Bureau and beyond, so a problem at the source would have far-reaching implications across the statistical system. COSSA strongly opposes the Department of Commerce’s decision and released a statement to that effect on March 27. In addition, COSSA issued an action alert to enable COSSA members to easily write to their Members of Congress and ask them to support legislation to remove the question. In addition, other COSSA members, including the American Statistical Association, Population Association of America, and the Social Science Research Council have released statements criticizing the decision.

At this stage, the only avenues to removing the question are legislation or a court ruling. Two bills (H.R. 5359 and S. 2580) have been introduced by Democrats in Congress that would bar the Census from asking about citizenship, but neither has bipartisan support, making passage unlikely. In addition, more than one law suit has been filed against the Administration, arguing that asking about citizenship is an attempt to depress the count of minority populations.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 3), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Science Policy Conference Program Taking Shape; Hotel Block Extended to April 6

More sessions and speakers have been announced for the COSSA 2018 Science Policy Conference and Social Science Advocacy Day. The conference will feature a keynote address delivered by Sian Beilock, President of Barnard College, plenary panels on “Reestablishing Trust in Social Science & Data” and “Post Truth: Communicating Facts, Not Fiction” and topical breakout sessions on the theme “Why Social Science?” covering National Security, the Opioid Epidemic, Natural Disasters, and Criminal Justice. Check the preliminary agenda for the full lineup of presenters announced so far. Registration for the Conference is still open. Members and students are entitled to discounted registration—email jmilton@cossa.org for details. The conference hotel block deadline was extended until April 6, so this is your last chance to take advantage of our discounted rate. Use this link when booking or use the group code COSSAM to receive the block rate. Check our website for the latest on the Conference.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 3), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

COSSA to Present 2018 Distinguished Service Award to Rep. Dan Lipinski, NIH’s Bill Riley

COSSA has named U.S. Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and Dr. William (Bill) Riley, Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as the recipients of its 2018 Distinguished Service Award. The COSSA Distinguished Service Award recognizes leaders who have gone above and beyond to promote, protect, and advance the social and behavioral science research enterprise. Awardees are chosen by the COSSA Board of Directors, which represents COSSA’s governing member associations. The 2018 Distinguished Service Award will be officially presented at a reception on April 30, 2018 as part of COSSA’s 2018 Science Policy Conference. Read the press release here.

Lipinski, who serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and as Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Research and holds a Ph.D. in political science, has been a strong advocate for scientific research at all levels and across all fields of study. He has worked productively with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact legislation that strengthens the U.S. scientific enterprise and has helped raise the profile of the social and behavioral sciences.

A 13-year veteran of NIH, Riley has worked at Institutes and Centers across the agency, including the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), before his appointment to lead the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research in 2015. Throughout his career, he has worked tirelessly to amplify the importance of social and behavioral science across the NIH and in biomedical research more generally. As OBSSR Director, Riley has cultivated strong relationships between the Office and NIH stakeholders through open, ongoing engagement with the social and behavioral science community.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 3), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

The American Statistical Association Answers “Why Social Science?”

why-social-scienceThis month’s Why Social Science? guest post comes from Ron Wasserstein, Executive Director of the American Statistical Association, who writes about how social scientists use federally collected data to provide the public with intelligence and insight to make smart decisions. Read it here and subscribe.

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 3), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

COSSA Releases 2018 Edition of State Fact Sheets, New Federal Funding Dashboard

state funding dashboardCOSSA has released the 2018 edition of its state funding fact sheets, a set of one-pagers that highlight the amount of federal social science research funding that goes to each state, as well as the top recipient institutions and sources of federal funding. Accompanying this year’s fact sheets is a brand-new federal funding dashboard with an interactive map so you can easily compare states and see how funding is distributed across all the universities within a state. These resources are produced using the most recent available data (fiscal year 2016) from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics’ Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Read COSSA’s 2017 Annual Report

COSSA’s 2017 Annual Report is out now. Check it out to learn more about COSSA’s activities and successes over the past year. Find out how your organization can become a member of COSSA on our website.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Webinar Highlights Graduate Training in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

On March 6, COSSA hosted a webinar to discuss a recent workshop on Graduate Training in the Social and Behavioral Sciences convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). The webinar featured Robert Kaplan (Workshop Planning Committee Chair) and Amy Stephens (NASEM), who discussed findings from the workshop (the workshop summary is available here) and potential next steps. Slides are posted on COSSA’s website. COSSA is collecting contact information for those who wish to stay involved in ongoing efforts in this area.

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Posted in Issue 6 (March 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Sian Beilock, President of Barnard, to Keynote COSSA Conference; Other Speakers Announced

COSSA has announced that Sian Beilock will deliver the keynote address for the COSSA 2018 Science Policy Conference on April 30. Beilock is the 8th president of Barnard College and a psychologist who studies how children and adults learn and perform at their best, especially under stress. She is the author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To (2010) and How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel (2015).

COSSA has also released information about some of the plenary sessions that will be held during the Conference. A panel entitled “Post Truth: Communicating Facts, Not Fiction” will feature Cary Funk, Director of Science and Society Research at the Pew Research Center, and Melanie Green, Associate Professor Communication at the University at Buffalo. Another panel, on “Reestablishing Trust in Social Science & Data” will feature Arthur “Skip” Lupia, Hal R. Varian Collegiate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, and Brian Nosek, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia and Executive Director of the Center for Open Science.

With the Conference is less than two months away, register today to ensure your spot! Remember: All participants affiliated with COSSA member organizations and universities are eligible for a discount on Conference registration, and undergraduate and graduate students can register for only $50. Email jmilton@cossa.org for more information.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Trump Releases FY 2019 Budget Request; Read COSSA’s Analysis of Social Science Impacts

On February 12, the Trump Administration began releasing details of its fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request to Congress, although details for some agencies (such as the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health) have yet to be released and are expected in the coming days or weeks. In light of a recent bipartisan agreement to increase discretionary spending over the next two years, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released an addendum to the FY 2019 budget outlining a number of adjustments to the budget request. However, the President’s views the new spending caps as a “ceiling” for FY 2019 funding, not as a funding target. As such, the request violates the budget deal by seeking to shift $57 billion away from nondefense discretionary spending and over to the defense side of the ledger.

The bottom line when considering the Trump Administration’s proposals for FY 2019 is that it remains a political, largely symbolic document that outlines the Administration’s priorities for the year ahead; take note of the policy priorities contained within the budget as they could shape some legislative and/or executive actions later in the year. However, Congress is not likely to go along with the bulk of the President’s recommendations, especially cuts for research and domestic programs writ large.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the President’s proposals as they pertain to social and behavioral science research. Supplements to this report will be issued as additional agency details are released.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Don’t Forget to Register for COSSA Science Policy Conference & Advocacy Day

There is still time to register for COSSA’s 2018 Science Policy Conference and Social Science Advocacy Day on April 30-May 1 in Washington, DC! More information about the conference is available on COSSA’s website. Remember: All participants affiliated with COSSA member organizations and universities are eligible for a discount on Conference registration. Check your inbox for a previous email from COSSA with the discount code or email jmilton@cossa.org. And undergraduate and graduate students can register for only $50, an 80% savings off the base price. Interested students should send an email to jmilton@cossa.org with their program, university, and anticipated year of graduate to receive the discount.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 20), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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