AERA Takes Action on Important Research Policy Issues
AERA Takes Action on Important Research Policy Issues

May 2018 

Throughout May, AERA has engaged with the scientific community on policies affecting education researchers.

Proposed Expanded Requirements for Visa Applicants

On May 25, AERA joined 56 organizations in a letter responding to the State Department on proposed changes to visa applications, which would require immigrant and nonimmigrant applicants to provide five years of history of social media accounts, telephone numbers, and email addresses, in addition to travel history.

The higher education and research communities expressed concerns about the burden of providing this information and its consequences for international enrollment at U.S. universities and the exchange of knowledge at scientific conferences. The letter also addresses the uncertainty regarding the information being collected, potential harms to vulnerable populations, and potential delays in processing visa applications.

This letter is the latest instance for which AERA has spoken out regarding changes to visa policies. In May 2017, AERA joined over 50 scientific organizations on a letter to the Office of Management and Budget and the State Department regarding proposed addition of supplemental questions for visa applications. In January 2017, then-AERA President Vivian L. Gadsden and AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine issued a statement on the White House Executive Order on Visas and Immigration.

Independence of the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics

On May 8, AERA joined 47 organizations in a letter sent to Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló urging him to retain independence and funding for the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (PRIS). The letter was written in response to a government reorganization plan that would move PRIS into the Department of Economic Development and Commerce and outsource all statistical functions currently performed by PRIS. Puerto Rico depends on reliable and publicly accessible statistics related to critical issues such as proposed education reforms and the restoration of electrical power.

Funding for NCHS

On May 7, AERA was among Friends of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) signing letters to House and Senate appropriations leaders in support of a request for $175 million for NCHS in FY 2019.

Clinical Trials at NIH

AERA also continues to monitor progress in the implementation of the new clinical trials policy at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which went into effect for studies submitted in January 2018.The policy contains an expanded definition of a clinical trial, with subsequent reporting and registration requirements for studies involving human subjects assigned to an “intervention” that is then evaluated.

Brain, social, and behavioral scientists have expressed concerns about the classification of basic, fundamental research as clinical trials. As a response to these concerns, the FY 2018 omnibus package included report language requiring that NIH delay its enforcement of the policy for “fundamental research involving humans” and submit to Congress a plan to gather input from the research community.

According to a recent report in Science, NIH is continuing to move forward with the clinical trials policy for some fundamental brain research.

Brett Miller, program director at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, noted the changes for education researchers in his January 2018 Highlights Q&A.