American Sociological Association

ASA Footnotes

A publication of the American Sociological AssociationASA News & Events
December 2016

Science Policy

Science PolicyA New Strategic Direction for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at NIH

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health has released a new strategic plan for 2017 through 2021. The plan focuses on scientific priorities, which reflect key research challenges that the OBSSR is uniquely positioned to address. Developed with considerable input from internal and external NIH stakeholders, the plan ensures OBSSR continues to fulfill its mission. Recent scientific and technological advances in the biomedical, behavioral, and social sciences are generating massive amounts of information from the molecular and genetic levels to clinical and community outcomes. OBSSR’s strategic priorities are to:  improve the synergy of basic and applied behavioral and social sciences research; enhance and promote the research infrastructure, methods, and measures needed to support a more cumulative and integrated approach to behavioral and social sciences research; and facilitate the adoption of behavioral and social sciences research findings in health research and in practice. For more information, visit

The U.S. House of Representatives Sends America COMPETES Act Successor to President

In what one senator called an “overtime victory for science in the closing days of 2016,” the House passed the Senate’s “American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA),” a bipartisan successor to the America COMPETES Acts of 2007 and 2010. President Obama is expected to sign it into law. The Senate was able to negotiate a version of the AICA that could secure bipartisan and bicameral support, and both chambers passed the bill in the waning days of the 114th Congress. The final bill includes compromises in a number of policy areas, ranging from grant evaluation criteria to funding authorizations to large facility management. First enacted to much fanfare in 2007 and last updated in 2010, the COMPETES law has been used to set policy for the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Energy Office of Science, and various STEM education programs across the federal government.

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COSSA Releases 2017 Rankings of Social and Behavioral Science Funding

The Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) recently released its 2017 College and University Rankings for Federal Social and Behavioral Science R&D, which highlights the top university recipients of research dollars in the social and behavioral sciences. Based on 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 2017 rankings reflect spending from fiscal year 2015, the most current available data. You can find more information on how COSSA produces its rankings and see how your university stacks up against more than 450 U.S. institutions at

A New NAS Report on Communicating Science Effectively:

A new publication from the National Academies of Science, Communicating Science Effectively, offers a research agenda for science communicators and researchers seeking to apply this research and fill gaps in knowledge about how to communicate effectively about science, focusing in particular on issues that are contentious in the public sphere. To inform this research agenda, this publication identifies important influences—psychological, economic, political, social, cultural, and media-related—on how science related to such issues is understood, perceived, and used. For more information or to purchase the publication, visit