Issue 20 (October 18)


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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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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Congress in Recess until November 14

Congress has been in recess since passing a stopgap funding bill on September 28, which will keep the government funded until December 9. The House and Senate will both return the week of November 14 for a five-week lame duck session and will be focused funding the government past December 9 and accomplishing other legislative priorities before the 114th Congress adjourns on December 31. Of course, much of this action depends on the outcomes of the elections next month and which party will hold the majority in 2017. See COSSA’s appropriations state-of-play analysis for full details of the fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending debate related to social science research.

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NSF Seeks Deputy Division Director for Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences

The Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking a Deputy Division Director for the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS). The Deputy Division Director will serve as a member of the BCS leadership team and as the “principal spokesperson in the area of behavioral and cognitive sciences.” More information can be found at USAJOBS. The deadline for applications is November 28, 2016.

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NIH Recognizes Sexual and Gender Minorities as a Health Disparity Population

On October 6, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) Director Eliseo P√©rez-Stable announced the “formal designation of sexual and gender minorities (SGMs) as a health disparity population” for the purposes of National Institutes of Health (NIH) research. The Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-525) gives the directors of NIMHD and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) authority to define health disparity populations. The designation follows recommendations of a 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) (now the National Academy of Medicine) Committee tasked with assessing the current state of knowledge about the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, as well as identifying research gaps and formulating a research agenda that could guide NIH in enhancing and focusing its research in this area. In 2015, NIH officially established the Sexual and Gender Minority Research Office (SGMRO) within its Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI). This office “coordinates sexual and gender minority (SGM)-related research and activities by working directly with the NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices.”

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National Institute of Mental Health Releases Update of Strategic Research Priorities

On October 12, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released updates to its Strategic Research Priorities, which provides guidance to potential grant applicants, NIMH grantees, and NIMH staff “for the design and implementation of future research.” The priorities address the four strategic areas outlined in NIMH’s 2015 Strategic Plan for Research. The recently released Strategic Research Priorities highlight the use of common data elements, the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project, the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, and NIMH’s experimental therapeutics approach.

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NIA Alzheimer’s Disease Research: ‘A Wealth of New Opportunities’

In a recent National Institute on Aging (NIA) blog, Inside NIA: A Blog for Researchers, Director Richard Hodes highlighted the latest concept clearances approved by NIA’s advisory committee. Hodes also announced that the Institute expects to release a record number of new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) over the next several months. He emphasized that the FOAs that are developed from the concept proposals will involve “every NIA division” and, in “a number of cases, two or more divisions will co-sponsor an FOA.” Hodes encourages researchers to examine the list of concepts and begin to think about submitting a grant proposal. He expects that the first round of FOAs will be released in the next four to six weeks, followed by the release of additional FOAs over the succeeding two to three months. In addition to disseminating the FOAs broadly, the Institute plans to also highlight them in the blog. Hodes also noted that most of the 10 FOAs for research on Alzheimer’s¬†covering the continuum of aging research released by the Institute in 2015 are still open, adding “we continue to welcome applications in the broad field of aging research.”

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NIH to Develop First NIH-Wide Nutrition Strategic Plan

On October 11, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Nutrition Research Task Force (NRTF) announced that the agency will develop a strategic plan for nutrition research for the next decade.¬† . The strategic plan, to be developed over the next two years, is expected to “emphasize cross-cutting, innovative opportunities to accelerate nutrition research across a wide range of areas, from basic science to experimental design to training.” In addition to soliciting feedback from the public and the scientific community, NRTF will appoint a senior leadership group to guide the plan’s implementation.

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NCHS Seeks Comments on Redesign of National Health Interview Survey

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is seeking comments on the redesign of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to be fielded in 2018. NHIS, which has been in the field continuously since 1957, is the “principal source of information on the health of the civilian noninstitutionalized population” of the U.S. According to the Federal Register notice, “the redesign process presents an opportunity to (1) ensure the survey is capturing the current health and health care needs of individuals in the United States and producing data of the highest-possible quality; and (2) reduce respondent burden by shortening the overall questionnaire length and harmonizing its content with other federal health surveys.” Comments are due November 7, 2016.

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OMB Seeks Comments on Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity

On September 30, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a Federal Register Notice soliciting comments regarding “Review and Possible Limited Revision of OMB’s Statistical Policy Directive on Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity.” These standards were last revised in 1997. The Notice observes that since the revisions were implemented, “much has been learned about how these standards have improved the quality of Federal information collected and presented on race and ethnicity.” Accordingly, the Notice identifies areas that may “benefit from further refinement” (see the Notice for full details).

Specifically, OMB is seeking comments in three areas: “(1) The adequacy of the current standard in the areas identified for focused review; (2) specific suggestions for the identified areas that have been offered; and (3) principles that should govern any proposed revisions to the standards in the identified areas.” Comments are due by¬† “no later than [30 days from publication of this notice]” which would be on or around October 31.

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National Academies, Director of National Intelligence, Host Summit on Social and Behavioral Sciences for National Security

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine hosted a Summit on Social and Behavioral Science for National Security on October 4 and 5. The Summit marked the beginning of a decadal survey, sponsored by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, to identify potential contributions by the social and behavioral science to national security. The sponsors are seeking input on what research is relevant to the topic of the study and suggestions regarding town halls and conferences as the study begins. More information and updates about the decadal study can be found on its website.

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Committee on National Statistics Releases Report on Reducing Burden in the American Community Survey

The Committee on National Statistics of the Division of Behavioral and Social Science and Education (DBASSE) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has published a report on their March workshop dedicated to improving the American Community Survey (ACS). The workshop examined different approaches to reducing the burden on respondents, including reducing the number of questions asked to individual respondents though matrix sampling, eliminating the need for some questions by using administrative records, increasing cooperation with the survey, reducing the length of the survey. The full report is available here.

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Nominations open for the 2017 SAGE-CASBS Award

Nominations are open for the 2017 SAGE-CASBS Award to recognize achievement in the social and behavioral sciences that “advance our understanding of pressing social issues.”The Award, supported by SAGE Publishing and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University, a COSSA member, was established in 2013 and seeks nominees who “represent the best in contemporary social science” and whose work has had significant impact in social, political, and economic life. Nominations are due by November 30.

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Funding Opportunity Announcements

NSF: Dear Colleague Letter on Robust and Reliable Research in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (NSF 16-137)

AHRQ: Large Health Services Research Demonstration and Dissemination Projects for Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections (R18) (PA-17-007)

AHRQ: Large Research Projects for Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections (R01) (PA-17-008)

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Events Calendar

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

COSSA members who have an upcoming event they would like to see listed in the Events Calendar and on our website should send an email to

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