Volume 39 (2020)

NIH Releases Report on COVID-19 Vaccine Communication

A panel of social and behavioral scientists coordinated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a report titled “COVID-19 Vaccination Communication: Applying Behavioral and Social Science to Address Vaccine Hesitancy and Foster Vaccine Confidence.” The report, led by the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), outlines research-based strategies to communicate the importance of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine while addressing the challenges of vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. The strategies laid out in this report are largely based on the fundamentals of communication research while including specific considerations for individuals at…

Congress Passes Final FY 2021 Funding, COVID Relief, Closing the Books on an Extraordinary Year

After weeks of tense negotiations, Congressional leaders reached an agreement on a coronavirus aid package and legislation to fund the government through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2021. The appropriations agreement largely provides flat funding or modest increases to social science agencies, unsurprising given the strains placed on the federal budget by the pandemic. COSSA will release a full analysis of the funding bills for social science agencies later this week. In the meantime, top-line funding for agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences are provided in the chart below. COSSA’s complete coverage of FY 2021 funding can…

Evidence Building Advisory Committee Seeks Input

The Advisory Committee on Data for Evidence Building, which was established by the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (“Evidence Act,” see previous coverage) has issued a general solicitation of comments from the public to inform its work. The request includes a set of ten questions that cover core issues like: “Capacity needs for secure data access and record linkage Areas for research and development on state-of-the-art data access and data protection methods How to protect privacy when using personally identifiable information or confidential business information in support of evidence building How to promote transparency and facilitate public engagement…

NSF Seeking Interdisciplinary Project Ideas on Understanding the Brain

On December 14, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a Dear Colleague Letter requesting suggestions for potential interdisciplinary projects on brain research. In the letter, NSF states that these submissions should shed light on untapped research areas that may depend on collaboration between neuroscience and other fields such as behavioral science which may lead to future funding opportunities. The letter asks for input on recent scientific advances in the brain sciences that impact multiple disciplines as well as the perspectives needed to pursue research opportunities more effectively. A survey collecting submissions is available on the NSF website.

National Academies Releases Resource on Communicating Newsworthy Social and Behavioral Science

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) have released a digital resource on how to communicate newsworthy social and behavioral science. The resource offers insights and strategies on a variety of communication topics including the concept of newsworthiness, differences of background between journalists and scientists, common challenges facing the media in reporting on science, and suggestions for scientists and journalists to consider when choosing to communicate science. The information imparted in the resource includes segments recorded from a Roundtable on Communication and Use of Social and Behavioral Science along with short checklists and testimonials from the roundtable’s panelists….

Editor’s Note: Update Returns January 5

This is our final issue of the COSSA Washington Update of 2020. Late-breaking news and analysis will be shared with COSSA members subscribed to our members-only emails. We will resume our ongoing coverage of policy developments affecting the social and behavioral sciences on January 5. The COSSA team is especially grateful to all of our members this year for their continued support and engagement amidst incredibly difficult circumstances. We wish all of our readers happy holidays and hope for a better 2021!

AERA and National Academies to Host Forum on Educational Equity Research Needs

The American Educational Research Association (AERA), a COSSA governing member, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) are partnering on a forum on the research needs and implications of the 2019 Academies’ report Monitoring Educational Equity. The forum will feature experts who served on the National Academies panel that produced the report and explore a select set of the 16 indicators proposed in the report, including exposure to racial, ethnic, and economic segregation; non-exclusionary disciplinary policies; access to non-academic support for students; and access to high-quality academic supports. The forum will take place on December 15, 2020…

NIMH Seeking Guidance for Research on Preventing Black Youth Suicide

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a request for information (RFI) seeking input from stakeholders on the prevention of suicide among Black children and adolescents. The RFI seeks information on approaches to understanding suicide risk among Black youth, research needed to expand evidence-based prevention programs and services, and input on additional topics that may be relevant to preventing Black youth suicide. This request follows up on the recommendations included in a 2019 report from the Congressional Black Caucus examining ways to address Black youth suicide and mental health. Comments will…

White House Announces Final Appointments for National Science Board

On November 24, the White House announced nominations and appointments for several key federal positions including the final two appointments filling out the National Science Board (NSB), the advisory body for the National Science Foundation (NSF). These appointments mark the first time since May that the NSB has had all seats filled and will be the last opportunity for the Trump White House to submit appointments to the NSB before the Presidential transition. The two NSB appointees are: Matthew Malkan, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles Scott Stanley, Vice President of Technology and Co-Founder…

Congress Works to Close Out Term as Leaders Named for 117th Congress

With time running out before the current continuing resolution (CR) funding the government expires on December 11, Congressional leaders are still working to negotiate a final deal for an omnibus spending package to fully fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2021. Reportedly, appropriators have reached an agreement on the top-line funding levels for the various appropriations bills (see COSSA’s analyses of the House and Senate proposals). The main obstacle appears to disagreement be on the size and composition of an additional COVID-19 relief funding package, which would be attached to one of the appropriations bills to…

December Headlines to Feature Deep Dive on 2021 Policy Landscape

COSSA members are invited to register for the monthly Headlines webchat on Thursday, December 10 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time. The COSSA team will break down the most important social and behavioral science news from the past month, followed by a deep dive discussion on the social science policy landscape facing the new Congress and the Biden Administration next year. Individuals employed by or affiliated with a COSSA member organization or university can register for the webchat here.

NSF Invites Proposals for New SBE-Led Initiatives on Strengthening Infrastructure, Broadening Participation in Entrepreneurship, and Enhancing Social Science Capacity at Minority-Serving Institutions

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a pair of Dear Colleague Letters (DCL) soliciting applications from the research community on two new crosscutting initiatives led by the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE). The first letter, Strengthening American Infrastructure (SAI), signed by the Assistant Directors of all seven research directorates and the head of the Office of Integrative Activities, seeks Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals that “incorporate scientific insights about human behavior and social dynamics to better develop, design, build, rehabilitate, and maintain strong and effective American infrastructure” (which can include cyber, economic, educational, physical,…

Senate Releases Appropriations Bills Ahead of Omnibus Negotiations

On November 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the text of all 12 fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations bills; this is for the fiscal year that officially began last month on October 1. As previously reported, the House of Representatives passed 10 of its bills in July. The release of the Senate bills signals that lawmakers plan to negotiate final FY 2021 spending during this post-election lame duck session. Senators are not expected to take up the bills on the Senate floor; rather, their bills are meant as a jumping off point for negotiations with the House on a final…

“Why Social Science” Can Help Us Combat Pandemic Fatigue

The latest Why Social Science? post comes Jay Maddock, professor of public health at Texas A&M University, who wrote for The Conversation about what social science can tell us about pandemic fatigue— and how we can mitigate it. Read it here and subscribe.

NIH to Hold Webinar on Basic Experimental Studies with Humans

On December 7, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be holding a public webinar on the Basic Experimental Studies with Humans (BESH) classification of NIH-funded research. The webinar, which will be led by Acting Director of ClinicalTrials.gov Rebecca Williams and NIH Technical Specialist at ICF International Elisa Golfinopoulos, will discuss an analysis from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) on the challenges of reporting and registering results information of BESH on ClinicalTrials.gov and the broader implications of the NLM’s findings. The webinar will be streamed live on the NIH website.

NSF Accepting Career-Life Balance Supplemental Funding Requests

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced that it is accepting supplemental funding requests for current NSF grantees and research fellows under its Career-Life Balance (CLB) initiative. This initiative, which began in 2012, gives financial support to early-career researchers with the goal of preventing leaving the STEM workforce due to sudden increases in family care responsibilities and costs. The award requests may be for funding for up to six months of salary or up to a $30,000 stipend plus indirect costs. More information about the CLB initiative and instructions on submitting supplemental funding requests are available on the NSF website.

Day One Project Seeks Input on Top 100 Science Roles in Government

The Day One Project is seeking the science community’s input on the most important science and technology roles in government. An initiative of the Federation of American Scientists, the Day One Project seeks to involve the science and technology community in the presidential transition by “developing new proposals on key issues that can be useful to policymakers on the first day of a new presidential term and beyond.” As part of an effort to identify the top 100 most important federal positions for science and technology, the project is seeking ideas for both what these roles are currently, as well…

Edward Liebow, COSSA Board Chair, Named 2020 AAAS Fellow

On November 24, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) released its list of newly elected AAAS Fellows, a lifetime honor given to select AAAS members who have made significant contributions to the U.S. science and technology enterprise. Among the awardees chosen for 2020 is Dr. Edward Liebow, Executive Director of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and Chair of COSSA’s Board of Directors. Liebow is recognized for his “distinguished contributions to the field of applied anthropology, and particularly for exemplary administration of professional societies and non-profit research and policy institutions.” Liebow became AAA Executive Director in 2013 after…

Day One Project Seeks Input on Top 100 Science Roles in Government

The Day One Project is seeking the science community’s input on the most important science and technology roles in government. An initiative of the Federation of American Scientists, the Day One Project seeks to involve the science and technology community in the presidential transition by “developing new proposals on key issues that can be useful to policymakers on the first day of a new presidential term and beyond.” As part of an effort to identify the top 100 most important federal positions for science and technology, the project is seeking ideas for both what these roles are currently, as well as ideas…

Senate Kicks Off Lame Duck Session by Releasing FY 2021 Spending Bills

The Senate Appropriations Committee released all 12 of its annual appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2021, which would fund the government for the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2020. The government is currently operating under a continuing resolution that expires on December 11 (see COSSA’s previous coverage). The House released all of its annual appropriations bills in July and passed 10 of them (see COSSA’s analysis). The Senate Appropriations Committee is not planning to consider the bills; rather, they will be used as a starting point for negotiations with House appropriators as both chambers attempt to reach…


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