Issue 22 (December 5)


SAVE THE DATE: COSSA Annual Meeting & Advocacy Day

The COSSA Annual Meeting and inaugural Social and Behavioral Science Advocacy Day will be held in Washington, DC on March 9-10, 2015. The meeting will feature presentations from federal agency leaders and other officials and will provide an excellent opportunity to network with others from throughout the social and behavioral science research community. New in 2015 will be the first-ever Social and Behavioral Science Advocacy Day in which COSSA members will have an opportunity to educate their elected officials about the value of social and behavioral science research and the importance of federal funding. Additional details, including registration information, will be available in early 2015.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Scientific Community Expresses Support for NIH and Its Peer Review Process

On December 2, the Coalition to Promote Research (CPR) sent letters to Congress expressing its “continued and strong support for the competitive peer review process used by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).” The letter, signed by 128 diverse organizations, noted that the scientific community is “extremely concerned about the recent criticism of the NIH’s funding decisions and the accompanying mischaracterization of NIH-supported research in the media and by some in Congress. The ongoing targeting of specific grants produces a chilling effect across the entire scientific community. These attacks inhibit the very scientific progress the critics claim to support. Our organizations strongly oppose these mischaracterizations and the associated undue criticism of the NIH peer review process.” (more…)

COSSA and Partners Urge Support for International and Foreign Language Education for FY 2015

On November 19, COSSA joined a Coalition for International Education letter to House and Senate appropriators in support of strong funding levels for the Department of Education’s international and foreign language education programs (Title VI and Fulbright-Hays) as Congress attempts to wrap up funding for fiscal year (FY) 2015. As the letter notes, “Title VI and Fulbright-Hays are the nation’s longest-serving, most comprehensive programs that develop and maintain a strong, world-class foundation for international education and foreign language studies.”

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

FY 2015 Funding Bills Approaching December 11 Deadline

As previously reported, the 113th Congress still has more work to do to complete the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations process before adjourning at the end of the month. At the time of this writing, negotiations between House and Senate appropriators and leadership continue, all working toward some form of final agreement to fund the federal government before the current temporary spending measure expires on December 11. Latest reports suggest that an omnibus appropriations bill that consolidates most of the 12 appropriations bills is still the preferred option, but a hybrid approach that includes an omnibus for some bills and a continuing resolution (CR) for others may be needed in order to get to the finish line. Details of the omnibus bill currently being developed could be released publicly as early as Monday, December 8. Either way, Congress must act in some manner by December 11 in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Deadline Extended for Applications to SBE Leadership Posts

As previously reported, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) is seeking to fill a number of leadership positions. Deadlines for applications have been extended through December 31. The open positions include:

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

NIH to Use Single IRB to Speed the Initiation of Clinical Research, Seeks Comments

On December 3, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a draft policy to promote the use of single institutional review boards (IRB) in multi-site clinical research studies. The draft policy proposes that all NIH-funded multi-site studies carried out in the U.S. utilize a single IRB regardless of the funding mechanism. Hence, the agency is seeking public comments on the draft policy through a 60 day comment period closing January 29, 2015.

According to the release announcing the draft policy, exceptions would be allowed if local IRB review is necessary to meet the needs of special populations or where it is required by federal, state, or tribal laws and regulations. Wider use of single IRB review in multi-site studies is expected to help achieve greater efficiencies in the initiation of studies across NIH’s entire clinical research portfolio.

Several NIH institutes and centers, including the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke have been supporting the use of a single IRB in multi-site studies. NIH director Francis Collins noted that the use of single IRBs in multi-site studies will “reduce duplication of effort, speed the initiation of important research, and save time and taxpayer funds.”

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

NIH Seeks Comments on Draft NIH Policy on Dissemination of NIH-Funded Clinical Trial Information

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking comments on its draft policy “to promote broad and responsible dissemination of information on clinical trials funded by the NIH” through registration and submission of summary results information to

NIH has a number of policies designed to promote the distribution of research results and guide funding recipients in disseminating their results, including the NIH Data Sharing Policy, the NIH Public Access Policy, the NIH Research Tools Policy, and the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy. According to the NIH, a recent study found that the results of less than half of NIH-funded clinical trials had been published in a peer-reviewed biomedical journal within 30 months of trial completion. “Selective publication of the results of some trials and not others – or publication of incomplete or partial findings from a particular trial – can lead to inappropriate conclusions about the usefulness of particular therapies.”

Compliance with the new policy will be a term and condition in the Notice of Grant Award and a contract requirement in the Contract Award. When the final policy is issued, NIH will provide more specific procedural guidance.

Comments are due on the draft policy by February 19, 2015. For more information see the notice.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

OMB Finalizes New Statistical Policy Directive

On December 2, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Statistical Policy Directive No. 1, “Fundamental Responsibilities of Federal Statistical Agencies and Recognized Statistical Units.” The Directive provides “a unified articulation of Federal statistical agency responsibilities.” In order to implement the Directive, federal statistical agencies will report to OMB on their progress toward fulfilling four key responsibilities: (1) Produce and disseminate relevant and timely information, (2) Conduct credible and accurate statistical activities, (3) Conduct objective statistical activities, and (4) Protect the trust of information providers by ensuring the confidentiality and exclusive statistical use of their responses. A draft version of the Directive was released for public comment in May (more information here).

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Reminder: Comments on Proposed Elimination of ACS Questions Due December 30

On October 31, the U.S. Census Bureau within the Department of Commerce issued a request for public comment related to the 2014 Content Review of the American Community Survey (ACS). According to the Federal Register Notice, the 2014 review “is the most comprehensive effort ever undertaken by the Census Bureau to review content on the survey, seeking to understand which federal programs use the information collected by each question, the justification for each question, and assess how the Census Bureau might reduce respondent burden.” The review looked at the ACS’s 72 questions and proposed removal of seven from the annual questionnaire. Among the seven questions slated for elimination is the question on “Undergraduate Field of Degree.” This potential move raises concerns for many in the social and behavioral sciences community, as well as the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, which uses the data collected via the “field of degree” question in its efforts to measure and track the U.S. science and engineering workforce. The Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS) has already submitted a letter outlining its concerns with the proposed changes.

More information can be found in the Federal Register Notice. Comments are due December 30, 2014.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Census Releases New ACS Data, Special Feature on Young Adults

On November 4, the Census Bureau released 2009-2013 five-year estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS). The release includes new tables on field of bachelor’s degree, health insurance status, poverty status, and year of naturalization. In addition, a new Census Explorer feature, Young Adults: Then and Now, allows users to compare young adults (18-34) across the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses and the 2009-2013 ACS five-year estimates and track changes in demographic, social, economic, and housing characteristics.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

ERS Reports on Fast Food Purchasing Behavior

The Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has released a report, “The Role of Time in Fast-Food Purchasing Behavior in the United States,” which examines the factors impacting how Americans consume fast food. The study, conducted using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, assessed the impact of time-use behaviors, prices, sociodemographic characteristics, and labor-force participation on fast food purchases. It finds that those who purchase fast food on a given day spend less time engaged in “primary” eating (eating while not doing something else), sleeping, doing housework, and watching television than the population average. And while the amount of time Americans spent eating out declined during the Great Recession, the percentage of people who had purchased fast food on a given day remained stable.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

AHRQ Data Shows 50,000 Lives, $12 Billion Saved

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released a report, “Interim Update on 2013 Annual Hospital-Acquired Condition Rate and Estimates of Cost Savings and Deaths Averted From 2010 to 2013” which provides preliminary 2013 estimates for hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), which include adverse events like falls, pressure ulcers, infections, and adverse drug events acquired during a patient’s hospital stay. The report finds a 17 percent decline in HACs from 2010 to 2013, equaling 1.3 million fewer patient harms over the three years. The decline also resulted in 50,000 fewer patients dying in a hospital as a result of a HAC, and a savings of $12 billion in health care costs. The data is part of a national measurement strategy on patient safety, coordinated in part by AHRQ, which produces the “AHRQ National Scorecard” on the HAC rate. (more…)

NCHS Releases Report on Drug Overdose Deaths

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released a report on “Trends in Drug-poisoning Deaths Involving Opioid Analgesics and Heroin: United States, 1999–2012,” based on data from the National Vital Statistics System’s multiple-causes-of-death mortality files. The report shows that between 1999 and 2012, the drug overdose (or drug poisoning) death rate more than doubled. The rate of death in evolving heroin nearly tripled. And while the drug poisoning rate involving opioid analgesics more than tripled over this period, it did decrease by five percent between 2011 and 2012—the first decrease in more than a decade. The states with the highest drug overdose rate over this period were West Virginia, Kentucky, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

NIH: Systems Science and Health in Behavioral and Social Sciences

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA), Systems Science and Health in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (PAR-15-047), seeking applications that apply system science approaches such as system dynamic modeling, agent-based modeling, social network analysis, discrete event analysis, and Markov modeling to better understand complex and dynamic behavioral and social sciences processes and problems relevant to health. (more…)

NIH: Family and Interpersonal Relationships in an Aging Context

The National Institute of Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking applications designed to expand understanding of the role and impact of families and interpersonal relations on health and well-being in midlife and older age. (more…)

NIJ: Bridging Research and Practice Program

The National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ) Bridging Research and Practice Program (BRP) provides funding to former NIJ grantees to disseminate and share their findings with practitioner audiences. The goal of the program is to ensure that the research reaches as broad an audience as possible. (more…)

Steven Breckler, COSSA Chair, to Leave APA

Steven Breckler, Executive Director for Science at the American Psychological Association (APA), will leave APA at the end of the year after 10 years in the position. APA is a COSSA Governing Member and Breckler currently serves as chair of the COSSA Executive Committee. He is praised for his service to APA in the announcement of his departure released last month. Breckler’s service to COSSA as well cannot be overstated; he is a longtime member of the COSSA Board of Directors, served as chair of the Executive Committee for the last two years, and chaired the 2013 search committee for the new COSSA Executive Director, among other contributions. COSSA thanks him for his service – his leadership will be deeply missed.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Events Calendar

Webinar: Producing Government Data with Statistical Confidentiality Controls, American Statistical Association Privacy and Confidentiality Committee, December 17, 2014

COSSA Annual Meeting & Advocacy Day, Washington, DC, March 9-10, 2015

A list of COSSA members’ annual meetings and other events can be found on the COSSA web page.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Leiden Statement: “Social Sciences and Humanities Indispensable to Understanding and Addressing Global Challenges”

“The social sciences and humanities are indispensable to understanding and addressing contemporary global challenges, and to grasping emerging opportunities. Every challenge the world faces has a human dimension, and no solution can be achieved without enlisting the support and efforts of individuals, communities and societies,” according to the Leiden Statement: The Role of the Social Sciences and Humanities in the Global Research Landscape, released in November. The Statement’s signatories are the League of European Research Universities (LERU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the China 9 grouping of leading Chinese universities (C9), the Australian Group of Eight research-intensive universities (Go8), the Association of East Asia Research Universities (AEARU), the Russell Group in the UK, RU 11 Japan, and the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities. The Statement’s purpose is to “restate and champion the fundamental role that the social sciences and humanities play in the new global community.” Accordingly, the Leiden Statement calls for “an expanded role” for the social sciences and humanities in confronting problems via interdisciplinary research. (more…)


Past Newsletters



Browse 40 years of the COSSA Washington Update.