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OBSSR Soliciting Papers for 11th Annual Matilda White Riley Honors

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking paper submissions for its Early Stage Investigator Paper Competition as part of the 11th Annual Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Science Honors. Early stage investigators are encouraged to submit one published article from 2017 that reflects social and behavioral science advancements helping to enhance life, lengthen life, reduce illness, and reduce disability. Honorees will present their findings on May 31, 2018 in a public event on the NIH campus. Submissions are due by February 18 and more information can be found on the OBSSR website.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

National Science Board Releases Policy Statement on U.S. STEM-Capable Workforce

On February 1, the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF),  released a companion policy statement to the 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators entitled “Our Nation’s Future Competitiveness Relies on Building a STEM-Capable U.S. Workforce.” The statement highlights the Board’s view that growing the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is critical to our economy and global competitiveness. The NSB also emphasized in its statement that STEM is not just for researchers with advanced degrees, but for all Americans and all segments of our population. More details can be found on the NSB website.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Common Rule Implementation Delayed Six Months; Further Delays Likely

The 16 U.S. federal agencies subject to the Common Rule, the set of regulations governing research involving human subjects, announced a six-month delay on the implementation of revisions originally announced in January 2017 (see COSSA’s analysis of the changes). The delay was announced as an Interim Final Rule in a Federal Register notice published on January 17, 2018, two days before the changes were scheduled to go into effect. According to the notice, federal agencies subject to the Common Rule are “in the process of developing a proposed rule to further delay implementation of the 2018 requirements,” and the six-month delay will allow for a full notice and comment period on this proposal. Details on what this second delay would entail—including whether the agencies are considering more substantive changes to the revisions—are not provided. A statement issued by the Department of Health and Human Services suggests a possible proposed implementation date of January 21, 2019, but this could change. As the regulations currently stand, the new implementation date is July 19, 2018.

The fate of the changes had been left in limbo since the presidential transition, as one of the Trump Administrations’ first acts was to freeze the implementation of new regulations pending review by the Office of Management and Budget, leading to uncertainty over when—and whether—the changes would go into effect.

A number of the changes to the Common Rule were designed to make the regulations less burdensome for research that posed no or minimal risk to participants, like a lot of social and behavioral research. Until the changes are implemented, research involving human subjects will continue to be guided by the existing regulations, which have not been updated since 1991. You can follow COSSA’s ongoing coverage of this issue here.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 23), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Chief Statistician Seeks Information on Combining Data

The Chief Statistician of the United States has issued a Request for Information on how best to integrate data from multiple sources to inform the development of standards for using combined data for federal purposes. Specifically, the request is seeking information on: “(1) Current and emerging techniques for linking and analyzing combined data; (2) on-going research on methods to describe the quality of statistical products that result from these techniques; (3) computational frameworks and systems for conducting such work; (4) privacy or confidentiality issues that may arise from combining such data; and (5) suggestions for additional research in those or related areas.” More information can be found in the Federal Register notice. Information should be submitted by March 13, 2018.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 23), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Delay to Common Rule Implementation Likely

On January 4, the Department of Health and Human Services submitted a final rule for approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which would indefinitely delay implementation of revisions to the Common Rule, the set of regulations governing research involving human participants (see COSSA’s analysis of the changes, which were announced in the final days of the Obama administration). This rule replaces an earlier proposal to delay implementation that was submitted in October but never approved by OIRA (see COSSA’s discussion), which would have allowed certain “burden-reducing” provisions of the Rule to go into an effect as scheduled while delaying the remaining pieces of the revision for one year. The new rule would delay the entirety of the revisions to the Common Rule for an unspecified period of time.  The original implementation date for the revisions is January 18, 2018, so OIRA would need to approve the new rule by then in order to avoid the regulations taking effect. It is unclear what the impact would be if OIRA were to approve the delay after the January 18 deadline.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 9), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NIH Continues to Tweak Policy for Investing in Young Researchers

As previously reported, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced over the summer a new policy aimed at increasing the number of early career investigators competing successfully for NIH grants. The Next Generation Researchers Initiative (NGRI) included two new definitions of early career investigators: Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) would include researchers who completed their degrees within the last 10 years and have not yet received their first NIH grant; Early Established Investigators (EEIs) would have to be within 10 years of receiving their first independent R01-equivelent research award.

In a presentation to the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director last month, NIH Principal Deputy Director Larry Tabak discussed the deliberations of a working group tasked with implementing the NGRI, including a number of concerns with the policy released in August. The working group recommends that NIH shift its policy away from the arbitrary 10-year cutoffs as set in the two definitions and instead place the focus on investigators who are the most “at risk” of losing their funding, regardless of age or years since degree. Another area for concern by the working group is that existing funds are to be used to fund awards to the determined investigators, possibly diverting funds away from established researchers. NIH will continue to refine the initiative over the coming months. The working group is expected to release its report in June.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 9), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NIH “Clinical Trials” Definition Moving Forward: Researchers Take Notice

As previously reported, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been working for the last few years to enhance its stewardship of and increase transparency over the clinical trials it funds. In a recent blog post, Mike Lauer, Deputy Director for Extramural Research, explained that while no changes have been made to the definition of a clinical trial, which is the primary area of concern for the social science community, the case studies developed by NIH to help investigators determine whether their research would now fall under the new definition have been updated and clarified.

COSSA described the planned changes and their impacts on the social science research community in a Hot Topic piece last year. All social and behavioral science researchers who have received NIH funding in the past, or who are looking to apply in the very near future, are strongly encouraged to review this information as your research may now fall under NIH’s revised definition of a “clinical trial” and require new steps to be taken. This policy impacts funding opportunity announcements with due dates of January 25, 2018 and beyond.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 9), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Trump Appoints James Woodworth to serve as Commissioner of Education Statistics

James Woodworth of the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute has been appointed to lead the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) at the U.S. Department of Education. Mr. Woodworth has also worked as Distinguished Doctoral Fellow at the Arkansas Department of Education Reform and as a public-school teacher. NCES is the principal statistical agency within the Departments’ research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences. Mr. Woodworth was appointed for the remainder of a six-year term expiring in 2021.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 9), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Trump Nominates Mark Schneider to Direct the Institute of Education Sciences

Mark Schneider, visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Vice President at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), has been nominated to lead the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). IES is the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education and includes the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, the National Center for Education Research, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the National Center for Special Education Research. Prior to joining the AIR, Schneider served as Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics from 2005 to 2008 and as a professor of political science at SUNY Stony Brook. Schneider’s nomination next goes to the Senate for a confirmation hearing and vote, although the hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 12), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NSF Seeking New Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources Directorate

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has initiated a national search for Assistant Director for the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate. Dr. Jim Lewis has served as Acting Assistant Director since January of 2016. The Assistant Director for EHR will oversee the directorate, which includes the Division of Graduate Education, the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, the Division of Undergraduate Education, and the Division on Human Resource Development.

The search committee is seeking candidates with outstanding leadership capabilities; a deep sense of scholarship; and a grasp of the issues facing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research and education. Details and contact information for the search committee can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 12), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

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