Blog Archives

Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act Becomes Law

On January 14, President Trump signed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 into law. Championed by former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the legislation represents a bipartisan recognition of the importance of science and data in helping to design and improve policies (see COSSA’s previous coverage for more details on the legislation). After the bill was signed, COSSA released a statement applauding the legislation. We will continue to report on details of the bill’s implementation as they become available.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 22), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NSF Releases Information for Proposers and Grantees During Government Shutdown

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is one of many government agencies currently closed due to the partial government shutdown, which has now stretched into its fourth week. NSF has issued guidance for proposers and grantees on how proposal submissions and existing grants are affected by the government shutdown. While the government shutdown continues, no new funding opportunities will be issued. However, proposal preparation and submission for existing opportunities will be available through FastLane and Research.gov, and proposal submissions will continue to be accepted and expected to follow existing deadlines. More information is available on the NSF website, though it is noted that NSF will not be available to respond to emails or phone calls during the lapse in appropriations.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 22), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NIH Requests Input on Updated Definition of “Behavioral and Social Sciences Research”

On January 14, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a request for information (RFI): Request for Information (RFI): Input on Revised Definition of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at NIH (NOT-OD-19-032). NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) is in the process of updating the definition of “behavioral and social sciences research” (BSSSR) that it uses to assess and monitor NIH BSSR funding. The current definition was originally developed in 1996 but has been updated periodically since then. Like the current definition, the proposed definition is somewhat lengthy (the full definition is included in the RFI). It begins:

“The behavioral and social sciences at the NIH include a multi-disciplinary set of research disciplines that have in common the study of behavior and social processes relevant to health.

“BSSR at the NIH involves the systematic study of behavioral and social phenomena, as well as their causes and consequences:

    • ‘Behavioral’ refers to overt or observable actions and to mental phenomena such as knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, cognitions, and emotions that are inferred from behavior.
    • ‘Social’ refer to the interactions between and among individuals, and to the activities of social groups, institutions, and environments, including family, community, school, workplace, economic, cultural, and policy environments.”

NIH is interested in comments that discuss whether the new definition is clear, whether it captures the full range of the NIH’s health-related behavioral and social sciences research, and how well it distinguishes BSSR from other disciplines of research. Comments will be collected through OBSSR’s crowdsourcing IdeaScale website and must be submitted by February 22, 2019.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 22), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

OHRP Releases Draft Guidance for Transitioning Studies to Revised Common Rule; Comments Requested

The Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released draft guidance for transitioning studies to the revised Common Rule. The Common Rule is the set of regulations governing research involving human participants. After a lengthy revision process (see COSSA’s previous coverage), changes to the Common Rule updating a number of its provisions took effect on January 21, 2019. The draft guidance released by OHRP gives details on how an institution may voluntarily transition a study initiated before the implementation date to the new regulations. The complete draft guidance can be accessed on the OHRP website. Comments on the guidance are requested by February 11, 2019 and may be submitted via regulations.gov.

In light of the new requirements taking effect, OHRP has also released more details on how institutional review boards (IRBs) should approach continuing review for studies eligible for expedited review under the new Common Rule on its website.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 22), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NSF Releases Solicitation for “Ideas Labs” for Data-Intensive Research in Science and Engineering

As part of the ongoing 10 Big Ideas for Future Investment at the National Science Foundation (NSF), NSF has released a solicitation on the Harnessing the Data Revolution big idea. The solicitation, for participation in NSF Ideas Labs, which are intensive workshops focused on finding innovative and bold transdisciplinary solutions to grand challenge problems, is part of NSF’s support for data-intensive research in science and engineering. The Ideas Labs will be intensive, interactive, and free-thinking environments in which a diverse group of participants from a range of disciplines and backgrounds will meet for five days and immerse themselves in collaborative thinking processes with a goal of constructing innovative approaches for solving significant science and engineering challenges through data-intensive research. Preliminary proposals for participation are being accepted through January 28, 2019. More information can be found on the NSF website.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 8), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

NSF Releases FY 2019 Program Solicitation for Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a revised solicitation for the fiscal year (FY) 2019 grant competition for Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF), one of NSF’s Ten Big Ideas. FW-HTF is a cross-directorate initiative, supported by the directorates for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), Education and Human Resources (EHR), Engineering (ENG), Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), and the Office of Integrative Activities (OIA) that encourages integration and convergence of disciplines across all these fields. Through FW-HTF, NSF is responding to challenges and opportunities related to the changing landscape of jobs and work.

The overarching vision of this Big Idea is to support convergent research to understand and develop the human-technology partnership, design new technologies to augment human performance, illuminate the emerging socio-technological landscape, understand the risks and benefits of new technologies, understand and influence the impact of artificial intelligence on workers and work, and foster lifelong and pervasive learning. Proposals must focus on advancing fundamental understanding of future work, and potential improvements to work, workplaces, workforce preparation, or work outcomes for workers and society. It must be convergent research that addresses the technological as well as the human and societal dimensions and potential impact of future work. The full solicitation can be found on the NSF website. The deadline for proposals is March 6, 2019.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 11), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Office of Evaluation Sciences Seeks Fellows

The Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) at the General Services Administration is currently accepting applications for one-year fellowships beginning in October 2019. OES is a team of applied researchers that work to build insights from the social and behavioral sciences into federal programs. OES designs, implements, and analyzes evidence-based interventions and randomized evaluations. Fellows shape their own high-impact portfolio of work, design and direct projects, and author academic publications. The deadline to submit applications is December 30. More information can be found on the OES website.

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Posted in Issue 23 (November 27), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NEH Releases 2019 Summer Programs for Teachers

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has released information about its 2019 tuition-free summer programs, which it offers each year to provide an opportunity for K-12, college, and university educators to study a variety of humanities topics. These programs focus on specific topics, texts, and questions in the humanities and promote connections between teaching and research in the humanities. Additionally, the NEH offers stipends to help cover the cost of travel and living expenses for these one- to four-week programs. The applications for summer 2019 programs are due March 1, 2019. More information and a list of topics is available here.

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Posted in Issue 23 (November 27), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

President Appoints Five New Members of the National Science Board, Reappoints Two Members

On November 5, President Trump announced his intent to make five appointments to the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The selections include reappointments of former NSB chair Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Geraldine Richmond of the University of Oregon. Two of the new appointees, Alan Stern and Stephen Willard, have backgrounds in the private sector. Dr. Stern is considered to be a champion of commercial space activities and has worked for Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. Mr. Willard is currently the CEO of a biotechnology firm after earlier careers in law and investment banking. The three other appointees will join the NSB from universities. Steven Leath is currently the President of Auburn University, after a career in agricultural research; Suresh Garimella is a professor of mechanical engineering and former vice president for research at Perdue University; and Maureen Condic is on faculty at the University of Utah and has focused her work on human neurological development, including testifying before congress on the ability of fetuses to experience pain during early stages of development and opposing research on embryonic stem cells.

Board members are nominated by the President to serve six-year terms, with the opportunity for renewal. In addition to Drs. Zuber and Richmond, the terms of six members of the NSB expired in May, meaning that education researcher Deborah Ball, internet founder Vinton Cerf, and four other NSB members were not selected for renewal. The NSB will hold its first meeting with the new appointees on November 28 and 29.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 13), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Comments Sought on Federal Data Strategy Best Practices

As recommended in the President’s Management Agenda released back in March, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been leading the development of a government-wide Federal Data Strategy to better manage the government’s data resources and improve the accessibility and usability of federal date for decision-making. The developers have finalized ten principles to guide the strategy across the themes of Ethical Governance, Conscious Design, and Learning Culture and are seeking comments on 47 aspirational best practices that are intended to “inform agency actions on a regular basis, to be continually relevant, and to be sufficiently general so as to broadly apply at all federal agencies and across all missions.” The practices are grouped according to five broad objectives: Govern and Manage Data as a Strategic Asset, Protect and Secure Data, Promote Efficient Use of Data Assets, Build a Culture that Values Data as an Asset, and Honor Stakeholder Input and Leverage Partners. Comments on the draft practices are due by November 16, 2018. Instructions for submitting feedback and the complete list of practices are available on the Data Strategy website.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 13), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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