AERA Statement on New NSF Research Rules

June 11, 2013 office: (202) 238-3235     cell: (202) 288-9333

AERA Statement on the National Science Foundation’s New Rules for Complying with Congressional Restrictions on Political Science Research

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 11—Felice J. Levine, executive director of the American Educational Research Association, today released the following statement regarding the National Science Foundation’s June 7, 2013, notice on implementation of the 2013 Federal Continuing Appropriations Act provisions affecting NSF’s political science program. The act, passed by Congress in March, requires NSF to fund only political science research that is shown to advance “the national security or the economic interests of the United States.”

“NSF’s guidelines for complying with new congressional restrictions on political science research show the agency’s steadfast commitment to advancing scientific inquiry to the fullest extent possible, while adhering to the law. It is clear that NSF is implementing the new requirements with scientific integrity.

“As is appropriate for an agency committed to scientific merit, NSF will charge its peer review panels with evaluating the alignment between proposed political science research and congressionally specified criteria for this field of science.

“It is important that scientists, and all Americans concerned about scientific quality and innovation, read the NSF notice, understand the events that require this plan, and ask to what extent the advancement of any science should be mediated by criteria that are not inherently scientific and that can only limit innovation and discovery in a field.

“While national security and economic prosperity are critical to our nation, one can only imagine how many scientific gains would go unrealized and science ‘chilled’ were such criteria to be applied across all scientific fields, from the biomedical sciences to earth sciences, to the physical and engineering sciences.

“The scientific community has long recognized that we are one science inextricably connected. The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Coalition for National Science Funding have been pressing this point in the face of recent legislative encroachment on science.

“We take the view that add-on criteria developed without scientific community leadership will, in the end, stifle science, especially when introduced and imposed only on a certain field or fields of science. The irony that a legislative body imposes new criteria on the science that informs politics and policy cannot be missed by even a casual observer of science funding and policy.

“We hope that common sense prevails and that bipartisan public support ensures these criteria do not become permanent.”

About AERA

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national professional organization devoted to the scientific study of education. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good.


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