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The Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) recently released a report, Using Science as Evidence in Public Policy, which encourages scientists to think differently about the use of scientific evidence in policymaking. This report investigates why scientific evidence is important to policymaking and argues that an extensive body of research knowledge utilization has not led to any widely accepted explanation of what it means to use science in public policy. For social scientists, this report shows how to bring their expertise to bear on the study of using science to inform public policy. More generally, this report will offer guidance on what is required beyond producing quality research, beyond translating results into more understandable terms, and beyond brokering the results through intermediaries, such as think tanks, lobbyists, and advocacy groups. For more information and to download the report, visit sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/Evidence_in_Public_Policy/index.htm#.UY1WAsrYHT.
A National Science Foundation (NSF) summary brochure released in April highlights the fact that social, behavioral, and economic sciences have a proven track record of making the nation more secure. Titled “Bringing People Into Focus: How Social, Behavioral and Economic Research Addresses National Challenges,” the brochure provides examples of the ways in which NSF-funded, basic, social and behavioral science research contributes to national security and economic interests. The compilation of studies describes cutting-edge research from improving evacuation plans during natural disasters to expanding access to vital services, and from evaluating the experiences of returning veterans to understanding the value of good teachers. The work featured in the brochure helps to provide understanding that the application of basic research endeavors, the impact of which often occurs years after the initial award, helps make us all healthier, safer, and more secure. This report can be accessed on the NSF website at www.nsf.gov/about/congress/reports/sbe_research.pdf.
Three decades of statistics about America’s people, places, and economy are now available for use on the U.S. Census Bureau’s application programming interface (API), which makes the information available for web and mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. In addition, 2011 American Community Survey estimates for the new districts formed for the 113th Congress are available in the API. The statistics from the 1990 and 2000 censuses join the previously available data sets from the 2010 Census and the American Community Survey. By combining Census Bureau statistics with other data sets, developers can create tools for researchers to look at topics such as school quality. For more information, visit www.census.gov/developers/.