Issue 23 (December 19)


COSSA Urges Census to Maintain Field of Degree, Marriage Questions in ACS

On December 9, COSSA submitted public comment to the U.S. Department of Commerce urging the decision to remove several questions from the 2016 American Community Survey (ACS) be reversed. As previously reported, the ACS recently underwent a comprehensive review of its current 72 questions, which resulted in a proposal to remove questions deemed of “low benefit.” COSSA’s comments outline the importance of Person Question No. 12—Undergraduate Field of Degree—and Person Questions No. 21-23, relating to marital history, to the social science research community. The Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS), a COSSA sister organization, also submitted public comment.

More information on the questions identified for removal and the call for public comment can be found in the Federal Register Notice. Comments are due December 30, 2014.

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Congress passes FY 2015 Spending Bill, Adjourns for the Year

Congress adjourned this week for the remainder of 2014 after a busy, and often contentious, lame duck legislative session. Among its post-election activities was passage of a spending package for 11 of the 12 outstanding fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills. The “cromnibus,” as it is being called inside the Beltway, was signed into law by President Obama on December 16.

COSSA has prepared a full analysis of the spending package outlining its impact on social and behavioral science research programs funded across the federal government. Read on for full details.

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NSF Seeks Social Science Communications Specialist

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking candidates for a new position within the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE). The Communications Specialist will “develop and implement a strategy to communicate information about the Directorate’s support of research, education, and training in the social, behavioral and economic sciences.” Among the required qualifications includes “experience with a science organization developing and implementing integrated communications strategies to promote research about social, behavioral, and economic sciences to a variety of audiences and stakeholders.” The announcement closes on January 16, 2015.

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NSF Updates Transparency and Accountability Practices

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced revisions to its guidelines for program officers and principle investigators (PIs) intended to better communicate the value of the research it funds. According to an NSF press release, language added to the guidelines for program officers require that non-technical project descriptions “serve as a public justification for NSF funding by articulating how the project serves the national interest, as stated by NSF’s mission: to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; or to secure the national defense.” Training and guidelines will also assist program staff in writing award abstracts and titles that better reflect the significance of funded projects. (more…)

New Releases from NCHS: Health Insurance Coverage, Contraception, Nut Consumption

The National Center for Health Statistics has released several new reports covering a variety of health-related topics:

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NIJ: Social Science Research on Forensic Science

In a recently issued Dear Colleague letter, Acting National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Director William Sabol emphasized NIJ’s interested in receiving proposals “that examine the social science questions related to the effective use of forensic evidence to identify and process criminal offenders and to explore the impact of these advances on the criminal justice system.” Particular areas of interest for fiscal year 2015 include digital forensics, ballistics forensics, and crime scene scanning technology. See the full letter for more details.

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Events Calendar

American Historical Association Annual Meeting, New York, NY, January 2-5, 2015

Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, January 2-5, 2015

American Economic Association Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, January 3-5, 2015

Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting, Portland, OR, January 8-11, 2015

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

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

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NIH Discontinues the National Children’s Study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has decided to discontinue the National Children’s Study (NCS). At the December 12 meeting of the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), a working group charged by NIH director Francis Collins to evaluate whether the NCS “as currently outlined is feasible, especially in light of increasing and significant budget constraints,” concluded that the NCS as currently designed is not. The working group further recommended “that the NIH champion and support new study designs, informed by advances in technology and basic and applied research, that could make the original goals of the NCS more achievable, feasible, and affordable.” (more…)

SMRB Accepts Working Group Report on Pre-college Engagement in Biomedical Science

On December 15, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) unanimously approved the Report of the SMRB Working Group on Pre-college Engagement in Biomedical Science. Chaired by Clyde Yancy, Northwestern University, the working group was charged by NIH director Francis Collins “to recommend ways to optimize NIH’s pre-college programs and initiatives that both align with the NIH mission and ensure a continued pipeline of biomedical science students and professionals.” The group released preliminary findings at its October meeting (see Update, October 28, 2014). (more…)

Gilbert White Lecture Focuses on Reducing Losses from Natural Hazards

The National Academies’ Board on Earth Sciences and Resources held its annual Gilbert F. White Lecture in the Geographical Sciences on December 4. Susan Cutter, Distinguished Carolina Professor at the University of South Carolina (and a past president of COSSA), delivered the lecture, which focused on “Why More Knowledge Is Not Reducing Natural Hazard Losses.” She explained that despite huge increases in our knowledge of the physical processes and social forces that interact during natural disasters, losses from such events have only grown. (more…)

NIH: Cancer Institute Releases Series of Funding Announcements

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently released a series of funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) designed to enhance the diversity of the NCI-funded cancer research workforce. The awards support individuals from groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, social, and clinical sciences. The Institute notes that a major obstacle to developing a stronger national health disparities cancer research effort has been the lack of significant strategic training programs for students and scientists. It further notes, “Greater involvement of students and scientists from underrepresented backgrounds is integral to a successful national cancer research effort involving more underserved patients and populations.” (more…)


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