Destroying Research: Act Now Before It’s Too Late!

For the past year, policymakers have been stirring about whether to cut funds for various government research entities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Longitudinal Survey (NLS) was on the chopping block not too long ago. Rachel Lovell, the SSRC’s senior research methodologist, wrote a brief blog post about the potential consequences of cutting NLS funds. Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics restored NLS funding for fiscal year 2012. This was the result of efforts by supporters of the NLS to prevent threatened cuts. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics still may cut NLS funding for fiscal year 2013. Supporters will have to continue their efforts to prevent this potential cutback too.

Two other very important research entities have recently faced elimination: the American Community Survey (ACS) and the political science research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The American Community Survey is instrumental in determining how communities and populations change over time throughout the country. Because the U.S. Census is a decennial enumeration, the ACS offers a more accurate picture of population changes, what affects these changes, and how families live. The latter has a multitude of implications for all political science research, which practically extends well into—and beyond—the functioning of our government, policies enacted by Congress, political interests among the citizenry, and the state of international relations. In both cases, America heavily depends on both of these lines of research.

As pointed out in a recent article in Business Week, small businesses are tremendously impacted by the data collected through the ACS. It provides a low-cost method for assessing how policies affect or influence local economies, whether certain communities are better suited for growth and development, and other relevant economic issues that larger corporations might easily address with their own resources. More importantly, social scientists rely on the data for significant research on policies, community development, population change, etc.

Policymakers in Washington must hear about why these programs should not be cut or significantly altered. We urge researchers to contact your legislators to address funding and program issues as the U.S. Senate prepares to review the legislation passed by the House. You can also sign online petitions at the websites ACS Petition2Congress and NSF Petition2Congress. For the National Longitudinal Survey, contact your representative and follow the steps listed at The Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research. You’ll find all the information you need to show your support for continued funding of the NLS for fiscal year 2013.

Social scientists and the research community are well aware of the importance of these programs. We hope you take time to offer your support. Spread the word and act now!

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Author: Julian Thompson

Julian Thompson is a research assistant at the Social Science Research Center at DePaul University. He is completing his MA in Sociology and is expecting to begin doctoral studies in the fall of 2012. Broadly speaking, his interests revolve around issues of identity, culture, power, legal practices and discourses, and inequality. His specific research domains are prisons, punishment, ex-offender reentry, street life, mental illness, and immigration detention and deportation. However, he is particularly interested in studying the racialized experiences of imprisonment and re-entry and the way these impact the racial understandings that offenders of color inculcate and use when making sense of their lives and criminal engagements.

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