Blog Archives

COSSA Conference Agenda Released; Hotel Block Rate Expires Feb. 28

The preliminary agenda for the 2017 COSSA Science Policy Conference & Social Science Advocacy Day on March 29-30 is now available. Featured speakers include University of California, Berkeley sociologist Arlie R. Hochschild and John Sides of the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog. Other sessions will highlight topics including Mobilizing Students as Ambassadors for Social Science, Promoting Your Expertise with National Media Outlets, Social Science in Government Service, and Advocating from Home. Register today! Don’t forget: participants from COSSA member organizations and universities are eligible to receive a discount on registration. Email for details.

For those planning to travel to the Conference from out of town, the conference hotel block rate expires on February 28. Book your room at the Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC/U.S. Capitol before prices go up next week! Use this link when booking to get the block rate or book over the phone and use the SRP code SCI.

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Posted in Issue 4 (February 21), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

2017 COSSA Science Policy Conference Keynote Announced

University of California, Berkeley sociologist Arlie R. Hochschild will deliver the keynote address at the 2017 COSSA Science Policy Conference and Social Science Advocacy Day. Hochschild’s most recent book Strangers in their own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award. According to the publisher’s website, the book “goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that many on the political right have been duped into voting against their interests. In the right-wing world she explores, Hochschild discovers powerful forces—fear of cultural eclipse, economic decline, perceived government betrayal—which override self-interest, as progressives see it, and help explain the emotional appeal of a candidate like Donald Trump.”

COSSA has also announced that the 2017 recipients of the COSSA Distinguished Service Award will be Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), in recognition of their work on last year’s bipartisan science and innovation legislation. COSSA will present Senators Gardner and Peters with the award at a Congressional reception as part of the conference on March 29. Other confirmed speakers include John Sides of the Washington Post’s popular Monkey Cage blog, who will speak about how to bring social science to the masses. Planned sessions also include panels on strategies for enhancing student participation in the social sciences on campus and best practices for social and behavioral scientists engaging with the media, among other topics.

Register today! Remember, participants affiliated with COSSA member organizations are eligible for discounted registration. Email for details.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 7), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

HOT TOPIC: HHS Announces Final Changes to Human Subjects Research Regulations

During the final days of the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the final text for its changes to the Common Rule, the regulations that govern research with human subjects, completing a revision process started in 2011. The Common Rule, which was last updated in 1991, affects research supported by 16 federal departments and agencies, including the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Defense, Education, Commerce, Labor, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the National Science Foundation.

Overall, the changes look to be a positive development for the social and behavioral science research community. According to the executive summary, “The final rule is designed to more thoroughly address the broader types of research conducted or otherwise supported by all of the Common Rule departments and agencies such as behavioral and social science research.” The rule maintains several proposals from the earlier Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that aimed to reduce the oversight burden on researchers conducting studies that pose no or minimal risk to participants (like a lot of social and behavioral science research). It also declines to adopt several provisions that were controversial in the biomedical research community (although supported by some in the social sciences), including consent requirements surrounding work with de-identified biospecimens, which is likely to lead to a less contentious reception overall.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the changes.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 24), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

From the Executive Director

Happy New Year! I am pleased with all that we were able to accomplish over the last year as we worked to protect and promote social and behavioral science research to policy makers and the public. But heading into this new chapter in Washington, it is important that we do not rest on our laurels. Given all of the unknowns about the year ahead and what the new political context might mean for social science research, now is the time for anyone who cares about our research to engage.

COSSA has been busy organizing several activities and events for this year aimed at showcasing the value our sciences bring to issues of interest to decision makers across the government. A number of these activities are highlighted below, including the 2017 COSSA Science Policy Conference and Social Science Advocacy Day on March 29-30 and COSSA’s Ten Recommendations for the 45th President of the United States. Watch for additional activities throughout the year.

It’s time to get to work – I look forward to engaging with you as we continue our efforts on behalf of social and behavioral science research. And as always, thank you for your support of COSSA!

Wendy A. Naus
COSSA Executive Director

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 10), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Releases 2017 Rankings of Social and Behavioral Science Funding at Colleges and Universities

COSSA recently released its 2017 College and University Rankings for Federal Social and Behavioral Science R&D, which highlights the top university recipients of research dollars in the social and behavioral sciences. Nine of this year’s top 10 recipients of federal funding in the social and behavioral sciences are COSSA members. Based on federally collected data, the COSSA rankings use an inclusive selection of fields to calculate the total federal R&D funding received by universities in the social and behavioral sciences. The 2017 rankings reflect spending from fiscal year 2015, the most current available data. You can find more information on how COSSA produces its rankings and see how your university stacks up against more than 450 U.S. institutions on our website.

The top 10 recipients for 2017 are:

Top Recipients of Federal Social Science R&D Funding

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (NC) – $92,039,000
  2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MI) – $88,373,000
  3. University of Maryland, College Park (MD) – $58,793,000
  4. University of Pennsylvania (PA) – $43,314,000
  5. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (MN) – $38,279,000
  6. Pennsylvania State University, University Park and Hershey Medical Center (PA) – $37,264,000
  7. University of Washington, Seattle (WA) – $36,876,000
  8. Florida State University (FL) – $31,382,000
  9. New York University (NY) – $30,804,000
  10. Arizona State University (AZ) – $29,812,000

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Congress Returns for Lame Duck Session, Begins Organizing

Congress returns to Washington this week for the first time since last week’s historic elections. Lawmakers are returning to a new reality that many did not see coming, with the election of Donald Trump as the next President and the Republicans maintaining a stronghold in both chambers of Congress.

Following the elections, Republicans maintain a narrowed majority in the House and Senate. The Senate margins sit at 51 Republicans to 48 Democrats, with a run-off race in Louisiana scheduled for December. In addition, and as expected, Republicans held onto control of the House, with 239 Republicans to 193 Democrats, though Democrats narrowed the margin by picking up 5 seats so far, with some still too close to call. Notable losses include Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who lost his seat to Democrat Tammy Duckworth; Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee; and House appropriators Mike Honda (D-CA) and David Jolly (R-FL).

Three newly elected members of the House will be sworn in this week, rather than in January with the rest of their freshman class, because their seats have previously been vacated. This includes Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), who will fill the late Mark Takai’s seat, James Comer (R-KY), who will fill fellow Republican Ed Whitfield’s seat following his resignation in September, and Dwight Evans (D-PA), who will fill Chaka Fattah’s (D-PA) seat following his June resignation.

It will be some time before committee assignments for the 115th Congress will be made. Below is an early look at the committees of interest to the COSSA community and number of seats currently vacated following the elections.


At the top of the agenda for the next few weeks is what to do about the FY 2017 spending bills, which remain undone. The current continuing resolution (CR) expires on December 9. Unsurprisingly, lawmakers are split on the endgame strategy. Some Republicans are pushing to complete the appropriations bills before the end of the calendar year, thereby allowing the next Congress to start fresh, while others would like to punt them to 2017 so as to dodge any final negotiations with President Obama. Either way, Congress must take some form of action by December 9 to avoid a government shutdown.

Another task for the lame duck session is getting organized for next year. House and Senate Republicans and Democrats are holding leadership elections this week. While we expect Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to keep the Speaker’s gavel and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to remain as Minority Leader in the House, and Mitch McConnell to stay on as Majority Leader in the Senate, there could be some surprises as lawmakers battle for other positions.

Stay tuned to COSSA’s coverage of the 2016 elections for the latest developments and analysis of what this all means for the social science research community.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 15), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

2016 Presidential Candidates’ Science Policy Platforms

Over the last year and a half, presidential candidates have provided hints as to what their science policy priorities would be if they were to win.

Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released details of her “Initiative on Technology and Innovation”, which includes commitments to grow the budget of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the research budgets at the Department of Energy and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). While Secretary Clinton’s published positions related to science primarily focus on computer science and technology, in response to a questionnaire from the Scientific American, Secretary Clinton expanded her position on basic research, saying “I believe it is essential that we strengthen our research capacity, by funding talented young investigators, looking for ways to prioritize ‘high-risk, high-reward’ projects that have the potential to transform entire fields.”

Businessman and Republican nominee Donald Trump has not published any specific policy recommendations related to science, but included in his answer to the Scientific American questionnaire that scientific advances, including a viable space program, require long-term investment and stakeholder input. Other public statements, including about the National Institutes Health, have been less flattering.

Green Party nominee Jill Stein and Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson also provided responses to the Scientific American. Stein believes that most government-supported scientific efforts should be related to combating climate change. Alternatively, Johnson believes that the government should focus on funding basic research rather than advanced or applied research.

More analysis can be found in the Scientific American and Science Magazine.

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Posted in Issue 21 (November 1), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Emilio Moran Named to National Science Board

The White House has announced the latest appointments to the National Science Board (NSB). Included in the 2016 class is Dr. Emilio Moran of Michigan State University. Dr. Moran is a respected researcher in the natural and social sciences, looking to better understand the interplay of human and environment interactions.

The National Science Board is the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and also serves as an independent advisor to the President and Congress on federal science policy. Members of the 25-person Board are appointed by the President of the United States for six year terms. Appointment to the Board is a top honor within the scientific community. Dr. Moran’s appointment brings the number of social scientists on the Board to four. He will be sworn in at the next meeting in November.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 18), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

NSF SBE Directorate Releases Dear Colleague Letter on Robust and Reliable Research, Invites Proposal Submissions

On September 20, Dr. Fay Lomax Cook, Assistant Director for the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF), released a Dear Colleague Letter on “Robust and Reliable Research in the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences”. The letter announces the SBE Directorate’s interest in stimulating research to enhance the reliability and robustness of research in these areas of science. To accomplish this goal, the SBE Directorate has invited proposals on a variety of topics to its standing programs including:

  • “Research to determine the extent of, causes of, or remedies for research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences that is neither replicable, reproducible, nor generalizable;
  • Methodological development to improve the robustness/reliability of research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences (e.g., improvements in study design, data-sharing techniques, analytic techniques);
  • Outreach/training/workshops designed to enhance the robustness and reliability of research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, including increasing acceptability of explicit research in this area; and
  • Reproductions, replications, or generalizations of seminal or pivotal studies that have served a demonstrably critical role in conceptual or empirical progress in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, including generalizations that demonstrate validity in atypical or nontraditional populations and samples. Reproduction, replication, or generalization projects require clear justification of the fundamental role of the seminal or pivotal studies in the scientific advance of social, behavioral, or economic sciences.”

Proposals are to be submitted to the most relevant SBE program.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 18), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Congress Passes Stopgap Funding Bill, Returns to Campaign Trail

Congress successfully passed a stopgap funding bill on September 28 to keep the government operating into fiscal year (FY) 2017, which began October 1. The bill will fund the government until December 9 and includes a number of policy and funding provisions that have been hotly debated in recent months, including funding to combat the Zika virus and the opioid epidemic, as well as aid in response to the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan and flooding in Louisiana. The text of the Continuing Resolution is available here. Congress will reconvene following the elections in November and what happens next remains uncertain. For full details of the fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending debate as it pertains to social science research, check out COSSA’s state of play analysis.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 4), Update, Volume 35 (2016)


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