Issue 01 (January 9)


Early Bird Registration Open for 2018 COSSA Science Policy Conference

Early bird registration is now open for COSSA’s 2018 Science Policy Conference & Social Science Advocacy Day, which will take place on April 30 – May 1 in Washington, DC. Registration rates will increase on January 16, so register now! Attendees affiliated with COSSA member organizations can receive an additional discount by using their exclusive member coupon code (email for details). In addition, students can register for a special price of $50. Interested students should email with your field of study, university, and anticipated year of graduation to receive the student discount code. More information about the conference, including sponsorship information and details on the conference hotel block, is available on the COSSA website.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

COSSA Releases 2018 Rankings of College and University Social Science Investment

Last week, COSSA released its 2018 College and University Rankings for Federal Social and Behavioral R&D, which highlight the top university recipients of federal research dollars in the social and behavioral sciences. This year’s rankings feature a new dashboard with an interactive map of recipients of social and behavioral science R&D funding, which allows you to see how your university stacks up against more than 400 U.S. institutions. Based on the most recent available federally collected data, the COSSA rankings use an inclusive selection of fields to calculate the total federal R&D funding received by universities in the social and behavioral sciences.

The top 10 recipients for 2018 are:

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill* (NC) – $104,085,000 (#1 in 2017)
  2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor* (MI) – $98,348,000 (#2 in 2017)
  3. Pennsylvania State University, University Park and Hershey Medical Center* (PA) – $39,333,000 (#6 in 2017)
  4. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities* (MN) – $39,147,000 (#5 in 2017)
  5. University of Washington, Seattle* (WA) – $38,676,000 (#7 in 2017)
  6. University of Pennsylvania* (PA) – $35,449,000 (#4 in 2017)
  7. University of Maryland, College Park* (MD) – $35,235,000 (#3 in 2017)
  8. Arizona State University* (AZ) – $31,016,000 (#10 in 2017)
  9. University of South Florida, Tampa (FL) – $29,932,000 (#23 in 2017)
  10. University of Southern California (CA) – $29,810,000 (#11 in 2017)

* Denotes COSSA membership

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

COSSA Board Chair Felice J. Levine Answers “Why Social Science?”

why-social-scienceOur last Why Social Science? guest post of 2017 was contributed by Felice J. Levine, Executive Director of the American Educational Research Association and Chair of COSSA’s Board of Directors, who reflected on the inaugural year of Why Social Science? Read it here and subscribe.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Congress Returns from Recess Focused on Funding

Members of Congress returned from their holiday recess this week to a government funded under yet another stop-gap measure that is set to expire on January 19. Fiscal year (FY) 2018 started October 1 and Congress has yet to pass any appropriation bills for the year. Before any of the proposed legislation can be sent to the President’s desk, Congress must come to an agreement on the top-line spending levels allowed by law. These budget caps will decrease in FY 2018 under the Budget Control Act through sequestration, unless Congress passes a deal to increase the spending levels.

The renewed focus on government funding comes after Congressional Republicans passed their much-anticipated tax cut before the winter holidays. While the final tax bill did not include problematic proposed provisions to classify graduate student tuition waivers as taxable income, the tax plan would still add an estimated trillion dollars to the federal deficit over the next decade, which would likely lead to significant cuts to non-defense discretionary funding down the line, including federal research programs.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Reauthorize International Education Programs

Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Advancing International and Foreign Language Education Act (S. 2255) on December 20 to reauthorize the Title VI International Education programs at the Department of Education. The bill is similar to H.R. 4491, which was introduced in the House last fall. Both bills aim to support the existing international education programs at the Department. Both Senate sponsors are members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and may work to incorporate the proposals in the bill into the committee’s reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. More information can be found in Sen. Young’s press release.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

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.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.

National Academies Launches Reproducibility and Replicability Study

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held the first meeting of the study committee on Reproducibility and Replicability in Science on December 12 and 13.  The study is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is statutorily required by a provision in the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. The committee will work to identify factors that affect reproducibility and replication, highlight best practices, and ascertain the extent of issues affecting reproducibility and replication. More information about project can be found here.

Back to this issue’s table of contents.


Past Newsletters



Browse 40 years of the COSSA Washington Update.