Issue 21 (October 30)


Introducing HEADLINES: A Monthly Look at What’s New and Noteworthy in Social Science Policy

headlines bannerCOSSA is excited to announce its newest program, exclusively for membersHeadlines: A monthly look at what’s new and noteworthy in social science policy. Launching in November, Headlines will be a monthly webchat in which members will learn about the latest policy and funding developments impacting social science research. The COSSA team, joined by periodic special guests, will take participants behind the headlines and explain what they need to know. COSSA is excited to offer this interactive space for members to get the policy-related information they need when they need it.

The first edition of Headlines will be two days after the midterm elections for a discussion on the “2018 Midterm Election Results and What’s Next for Social Science Funding and Policy.” During this webchat, COSSA will recap the results of the 2018 midterm elections, including the notable winners and losers, changes in Congressional leadership, and how the results will affect the Congressional committees overseeing social science funding and policy. Presenters will also look ahead and share our outlook for what to expect in the coming months and answer questions. COSSA members can register here to attend November’s monthly webchat.

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COSSA Encourages Response to NIH Clinical Trials RFI

As previously reported, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been taking steps in recent years to enhance its stewardship of and increase transparency over the clinical trials it funds. This has included the development of a new, expanded definition of the term “clinical trial,” which now applies to all research involving human subjects that involves a prospective experimental manipulation of an independent variable, and triggers the need for researchers to adhere to a number of new registering and reporting requirements using (see COSSA’s Hot Topic piece for details). Many basic behavioral and social science studies will be caught up in these new requirements.

NIH released a Request for Information (RFI) (NOT-OD-18-217) in September seeking input on the standards NIH should use in registration and results reporting for prospective basic science studies involving human participants (see COSSA’s previous coverage of the RFI). COSSA has issued an Action Alert to assist stakeholders concerned about this revised “clinical trials” definition in responding to the RFI. The alert includes additional context on the NIH clinical trials policy, a step-by-step guide to responding to the RFI, and sample text respondents can use in submitting their comments. Responses to the RFI are due by November 12, 2018. COSSA encourages individuals concerned about this policy to respond and share the action alert widely.

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COSSA Seeks Interns for 2019

COSSA is accepting internship applications for the spring semester beginning in January 2019. The opportunity is best suited for undergraduate students who wish to learn about advocacy/lobbying, policy impacting social science, and/or non-profit organizations. Responsibilities include conducting research to assist COSSA staff with their lobbying activities and coverage of events, such as Congressional hearings, federal agency advisory committee meetings, community and coalition events, which may result in a written product, such as a contribution to the COSSA Washington Update. More information is available in the internship description. Applications will be evaluated as they are received, so apply now!

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Disaster Researchers Brandi Gilbert and Nnenia Campbell Answer “Why Social Science?”

why-social-scienceThe latest Why Social Science? guest post comes from Brandi Gilbert of the Urban Institute and Nnenia Campbell of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who write about what social science research related to children and older adults has taught us about building community resilience and enhancing recovery after disasters. Read it here and subscribe.

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Census Reissues Request for Input on 2020 Data Products

The Census Bureau has reopened a request for comments published over the summer to encourage additional feedback on how data products from prior decennial censuses (including summary and detailed tables, national and state demographic profiles, and topical briefs) have been used. As part of the Bureau’s ongoing efforts to safeguard privacy, some data products released after previous decennial censuses may be eliminated. Stakeholder input is necessary to help the Bureau prioritize which data products are most important to maintain. More information, including specific questions of interest to the Bureau and a spreadsheet containing a complete list of data products and tables, is available in the original Federal Register notice published in July. Note: this request does not have any bearing on the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. Comments must be submitted by November 8, 2018.

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NSF Releases Dear Colleague Letter on Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure Opportunities

On October 15, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a Dear Colleague Letter, signed by the Assistant Directors of all seven research directorates and various Office Heads, announcing the intention to release Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure funding opportunities this fall. Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure is one of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas for future investment and focuses on experimental research capabilities in the mid-scale range (projects costing between $6 million and $70 million)—including in the social and behavioral sciences—that will serve as enabling tools for research and support the work of many investigators over time. The letter (NSF 19-013) outlined that one solicitation will include an opportunity to propose Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure projects with a total project cost of between approximately $6 million and approximately $20 million, pending the availability of funds, and a second solicitation is expected to include an opportunity to propose projects with a total project cost of between approximately $20 million and approximately $70 million, also pending the availability of funds. Keep up with the COSSA Washington Update for the release of these funding opportunities.

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NIH Seeks Input on BRAIN Initiative

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking feedback through November 15 on a Request for Information (RFI) on the next phase of the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative (NOT-NS-18-075). The agency is requesting input on the vision, priorities and goals outlined in the 2014 strategic plan, specifically in the following areas: ideas for new tools and technologies that have the potential to transform brain circuit research, questions about brain circuit function in humans or animal models that could be addressed with new technologies, considerations for data sharing infrastructure and policies, questions about ethical implications of BRAIN-supported neurotechnologies and advancements, approaches for disseminating new tools and technologies, and training the broader neuroscience research community. The American Psychological Association (APA), a COSSA member, provides additional details here.

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Briefing Highlights Role of Vital Statistics in Protecting Maternal and Child Health

On October 25, the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS), the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and the March of Dimes held a Congressional briefing entitled “Vital Statistics: Vital to Maternal and Child Health.” The briefing featured Shawna Webster, Executive Director of NAPHSIS; Devin George, State Registrar and Director for the Louisiana Bureau of Vital Records and Statistics; Rebecca Russell, Senior Director of Applied Research for the March of Dimes; Judette Louis, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of South Florida; and Elizabeth Saadi, State Registrar in the Kansas Office of Vital Statistics.

The speakers discussed the problems that exist around collecting maternal mortality data, and how vital statistics could be used to help lower maternal mortality rates, which are currently on the rise in the United States. Webster offered introductory remarks and noted that while states were sending their information to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) more reliably, there were still problems with the integrity of the data.

George explained that while physicians are supposed to check a box on a death certificate to indicate if the patient was pregnant at the time of death or within a year of her death, they don’t always check this box or check it incorrectly. Sometimes, this can be caught by the Bureau of Vital Records and Statistics if they notice a fetal death certificate filed in short proximity.

Louis discussed her role as a maternal fetal medicine physician, which is a more specialized obstetrician, and noted the rising maternal mortality rate and the disparity in maternal deaths within races and ethnicities. She highlighted two initiatives created by the Florida Department of Health’s Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review (PAMR), the Obstetric Hemorrhage Initiative (OHI) and the Hypertension in Pregnancy Project (HIP),which sought to lower hemorrhage and hypertension rates, the two leading causes of maternal death in the state of Florida, and treat these diseases more effectively with better preventative care, screening and post-discharge education. These initiatives would not have been possible without this important vital data, as the data allowed them to target specific causes of maternal mortality in Florida.

Russell‘s remarks focused on the issue of “maternity care deserts,” areas where maternity care is not available within the county, which are a high contributor to maternal deaths in rural areas. She also discussed the barriers preventing women from accessing care, particularly lack of health insurance, a problem for one-fifth of pregnant women.

Saadi concluded by highlighting the use of vital statistics and explained why they are important. She mentioned that the introduction of Electronic Death Reporting Systems has made a big difference in many states, including her own state of Kansas. This data led to the regulation of home daycares in Kansas after a disturbing number of young children died. However, the data could be further improved by including more specific information on cause of death. For instance, an indication that “cardiac arrest” was the cause of death is not helpful to determine whether or not the death was related to pregnancy and delivery-related heart disease.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s fall intern, Victoria Deck of Emerson College.

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Carol Dweck Receives the 2018 SAGE-CASBS Award

On October 23, SAGE Publishing and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University, a COSSA member, announced that Carol Dweck of Stanford University is the recipient of the 2018 SAGE-CASBS Award. The SAGE-CASBS Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the behavioral and social sciences that advance our understanding of pressing social issues. Dweck has previously held posts at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the University of Illinois and is most associated with launching a body of research collectively showing that individuals possess implicit theories of intelligence that reside on a continuum from “fixed mindset” to “growth mindset” – now widely-used concepts that Dweck defined and clarified. Dweck will deliver a public lecture in March 2019 at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

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