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From the Consortium of Social Science Associations:
December 3, 2019


White House Wants Your Thoughts on the Research Environment

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has issued a request for information (RFI) on the research environment.  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/11/26/2019-25604/request-for-information-on-the-american-research-environment
Comments will be used to inform the work of the Joint Committee on the Research Environment (JCORE), a committee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). As we have previously reported, JCORE was established in May 2019 and comprises four subcommittees: (1) Research Rigor and Integrity; (2) Coordinating Administrative Requirements for Research; (3) Research Security; and (4) Safe and Inclusive Research Environments.  

COSSA has been participating in JCORE events over the last few months on behalf of the social and behavioral science community, including a White House Summit in November, and is following its work very closely. Summary of November meeting: https://cgsnet.org/sites/default/files/Summary-of-JCORE-Summit-November-2019_0.pdf   COSSA comment: https://www.cossa.org/tag/nstc/  (The American Economic Association is a governing association of COSSA https://www.cossa.org/members/)
The JCORE effort may result in new policies and guidelines across these four areas, making it even more important that the social science research community weighs in.    

The request asks for information on actions that Federal agencies can take, working in partnership with private industry, academic institutions, and non-profit/philanthropic organizations, to maximize the quality and effectiveness of the American research environment across JCORE's four main areas. More information on the specific questions JCORE is seeking feedback on are below. Full details are available in the Federal Register notice. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/11/26/2019-25604/request-for-information-on-the-american-research-environment
SUBMIT COMMENTS: Comments are due by 11:59 pm ET on December 23, 2019.

If your organization responds to the RFI, please share your response with COSSA. As always, do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.  wnaus@cossa.org

RFI Questions
Research Rigor and Integrity:
What actions can Federal agencies take to facilitate the reproducibility, replicability, and quality of research?  
What incentives currently exist to (1) conduct and report research so that it can be reproduced, replicated, or generalized more readily, and (2) reproduce and replicate or otherwise confirm or generalize publicly reported research findings?
How can Federal agencies best work with the academic community, professional societies, and the private sector to enhance research quality, reproducibility, and replicability?  
What are current impediments and how can institutions, other stakeholders, and Federal agencies collaboratively address them?
How do we ensure that researchers, including students, are aware of the ethical principles of integrity that are fundamental to research?
What incentives can Federal agencies provide to encourage reporting of null or negative research findings?  
How can agencies best work with publishers to to facilitate reporting of null or negative results and refutations, constraints on reporting experimental methods, failure to fully report caveats and limitations of published research, and other issues that compromise reproducibility and replicability?
How can the U.S. government best align its efforts to foster research rigor, reproducibility, and replicability with those of international partners?
Coordinating Administrative Requirements for Research:
What actions can the Federal government take to reduce administrative work associated with FCOI requirements for researchers, institutions, and Federal agency staff?
How can Federal agencies best achieve the appropriate balance between reporting and administrative requirements and the potential risk of unreported or managed financial conflicts that could compromise the research?
From the perspective of institutions, describe the impact of the 2011 revisions to the Public Health Services FCOI regulations. What were the implications with respect to the balance between burden and risk? Did the revisions result in fewer significant unresolved or unreported financial conflicts?
Please comment on whether and how a streamlined, harmonized, Federal-wide policy for FCOI would provide benefits with respect to reducing administrative work and whether there would be anticipated challenges.
How can agencies best reduce workload associated with submitting and reviewing applications for Federal research funding? What information is necessary to assess the merit of the proposed research, and what information can be delayed until after the merit determination is made (“just-in-time”)?
Research Rigor and Integrity:
How can the U.S. Government work with organizations that perform research to manage and mitigate the risk of misappropriation of taxpayer or other funds through unethical behaviors in the research enterprise?
How can the U.S. government best partner across the research enterprise to enhance research security?
How can Federal agencies and research institutions measure and balance the benefits and risks associated with international research cooperation?
Safe and Inclusive Research Environments:
What policies and practices are most beneficial in fostering a culture of safe and inclusive research environments?
What barriers does your organization face in the recruitment and retention of diverse researchers?
Are Federal agency policies on harassment complimentary or conflicting with regard to state or organizational policies?
What metrics can the Federal government use to assess progress in promoting safer and more inclusive research environments?
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