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New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research (2014)

April 16, 2014 Comments off

New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research (2014)
Source: National Research Council

Each year, child protective services receive reports of child abuse and neglect involving six million children, and many more go unreported. The long-term human and fiscal consequences of child abuse and neglect are not relegated to the victims themselves — they also impact their families, future relationships, and society. In 1993, the National Research Council (NRC) issued the report, Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect, which provided an overview of the research on child abuse and neglect. New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research updates the 1993 report and provides new recommendations to respond to this public health challenge. According to this report, while there has been great progress in child abuse and neglect research, a coordinated, national research infrastructure with high-level federal support needs to be established and implemented immediately.

New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research recommends an actionable framework to guide and support future child abuse and neglect research. This report calls for a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to child abuse and neglect research that examines factors related to both children and adults across physical, mental, and behavioral health domains–including those in child welfare, economic support, criminal justice, education, and health care systems–and assesses the needs of a variety of subpopulations. It should also clarify the causal pathways related to child abuse and neglect and, more importantly, assess efforts to interrupt these pathways. New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research identifies four areas to look to in developing a coordinated research enterprise: a national strategic plan, a national surveillance system, a new generation of researchers, and changes in the federal and state programmatic and policy response.

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Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)
Source: National Research Council

The Arctic has been undergoing significant changes in recent years. Average temperatures are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. The extent and thickness of sea ice is rapidly declining. Such changes may have an impact on atmospheric conditions outside the region. Several hypotheses for how Arctic warming may be influencing mid-latitude weather patterns have been proposed recently. For example, Arctic warming could lead to a weakened jet stream resulting in more persistent weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. Or Arctic sea ice loss could lead to an increase of snow on high-latitude land, which in turn impacts the jet stream resulting in cold Eurasian and North American winters. These and other potential connections between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather are the subject of active research.

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns is the summary of a workshop convened in September 2013 by the National Research Council to review our current understanding and to discuss research needed to better understand proposed linkages. A diverse array of experts examined linkages between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather patterns. The workshop included presentations from leading researchers representing a range of views on this topic. The workshop was organized to allow participants to take a global perspective and consider the influence of the Arctic in the context of forcing from other components of the climate system, such as changes in the tropics, ocean circulation, and mid-latitude sea surface temperature. This report discusses our current understanding of the mechanisms that link declines in Arctic sea ice cover, loss of high-latitude snow cover, changes in Arctic-region energy fluxes, atmospheric circulation patterns, and the occurrence of extreme weather events; possible implications of more severe loss of summer Arctic sea ice upon weather patterns at lower latitudes; major gaps in our understanding, and observational and/or modeling efforts that are needed to fill those gaps; and current opportunities and limitations for using Arctic sea ice predictions to assess the risk of temperature/precipitation anomalies and extreme weather events over northern continents.

Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (2014)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (2014)
Source: National Research Council

Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences examines how to update human subjects protections regulations so that they effectively respond to current research contexts and methods. With a specific focus on social and behavioral sciences, this consensus report aims to address the dramatic alterations in the research landscapes that institutional review boards (IRBs) have come to inhabit during the past 40 years. The report aims to balance respect for the individual persons whose consent to participate makes research possible and respect for the social benefits that productive research communities make possible.

The ethics of human subjects research has captured scientific and regulatory attention for half a century. To keep abreast of the universe of changes that factor into the ethical conduct of research today, the Department of Health and Human Services published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in July 2011. Recognizing that widespread technological and societal transformations have occurred in the contexts for and conduct of human research since the passage of the National Research Act of 1974, the ANPRM revisits the regulations mandated by the Act in a correspondingly comprehensive manner. Its proposals aim to modernize the Common Rule and to improve the efficiency of the work conducted under its auspices. Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences identifies issues raised in the ANPRM that are critical and feasible for the federal government to address for the protection of participants and for the advancement of the social and behavioral sciences. For each identified issue, this report provides guidance for IRBs on techniques to address it, with specific examples and best practice models to illustrate how the techniques would be applied to different behavioral and social sciences research procedures.

Connecting Individual K-12 STEM Subjects Has Potential Advantages, Poses Challenges

March 13, 2014 Comments off

Connecting Individual K-12 STEM Subjects Has Potential Advantages, Poses Challenges
Source: National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council

A new report from the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council examines current efforts to connect the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines in K-12 education, both in formal classroom settings and informal learning environments, and suggests research to help determine the conditions most likely to lead to positive outcomes such as greater student retention and achievement, improved college-readiness skills, and increased interest in pursuing a STEM-related career. A short video illustrating today’s STEM education landscape and the potential benefits and challenges of integrated approaches also was released in conjunction with the report. The report and video note that the recently published Next Generation Science Standards, which encourage integration between science concepts and engineering practices, provide an impetus for considering integration.

The Science of Science Communication II: Summary of a Colloquium (2014)

February 14, 2014 Comments off

The Science of Science Communication II: Summary of a Colloquium (2014)
Source: National Research Council

Successful scientists must be effective communicators within their professions. Without those skills, they could not write papers and funding proposals, give talks and field questions, or teach classes and mentor students. However, communicating with audiences outside their profession – people who may not share scientists’ interests, technical background, cultural assumptions, and modes of expression – presents different challenges and requires additional skills. Communication about science in political or social settings differs from discourse within a scientific discipline. Not only are scientists just one of many stakeholders vying for access to the public agenda, but the political debates surrounding science and its applications may sometimes confront scientists with unfamiliar and uncomfortable discussions involving religious values, partisan interests, and even the trustworthiness of science.

The Science of Science Communication II is the summary of a Sackler Colloquium convened in September 2013 At this event, leading social, behavioral, and decision scientists, other scientists, and communication practitioners shared current research that can improve the communication of science to lay audiences. In the Sackler Colloquia tradition, the meeting also allowed social and natural scientists to identify new opportunities to collaborate and advance their own research, while improving public engagement with science. Speakers provided evidence-based guidance on how to listen to others so as to identify their information needs, ways of thinking about the world, and the cultural stereotypes regarding scientists. They delved deeply into the incentive systems that shape what scientists study and how they report their work, the subtle changes in framing that can influence how messages are interpreted, the complex channels that determine how messages flow, and the potential politicization of scientific evidence.

Technological Challenges in Antibiotic Discovery and Development: A Workshop Summary (2014)

February 12, 2014 Comments off

Technological Challenges in Antibiotic Discovery and Development: A Workshop Summary (2014)
Source: National Research Council

Technological Challenges in Antibiotic Discovery and Development is the summary of a workshop convened by the Chemical Sciences Roundtable in September 2013 to explore the current state of antibiotic discovery and examine the technology available to facilitate development. Through formal presentations and panel discussions, participants from academia, industry, federal research agencies discussed the technical challenges present and the incentives and disincentives industry faces in antibiotic development, and identified novel approaches to antibiotic discovery.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious and growing problem in modern medicine and it is emerging as a pre-eminent public health threat. Each year in the United States alone, at least two million acquire serious infections with bacteria that are resistant to one or more antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die annually as a direct result of these antibiotic-resistant infections. In addition to the toll on human life, antibiotic-resistant infections add considerable and avoidable costs to the already overburdened U.S. health care system. This report explores the challenges in overcoming antibiotic resistance, screening for new antibiotics, and delivering them to the sites of infection in the body. The report also discusses a path forward to develop the next generation of potent antimicrobial compounds capable of once again tilting the battle against microbial pathogens in favor of humans. Technological Challenges in Antibiotic Discovery and Development gives a broad view of the landscape of antibiotic development and the technological challenges and barriers to be overcome.

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises

January 31, 2014 Comments off

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises
Source: National Research Council

Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the past million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in the Earth’s atmosphere for a very, very long time. Lacking action by the world’s nations, it is clear that the planet will be warmer, sea level will rise, and patterns of rainfall will change. But the future is also partly uncertain — there is considerable uncertainty about how we will arrive at that different climate. Will the changes be gradual, allowing natural systems and societal infrastructure to adjust in a timely fashion? Or will some of the changes be more abrupt, crossing some threshold or “tipping point” to change so fast that the time between when a problem is recognized and when action is required shrinks to the point where orderly adaptation is not possible?

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change is an updated look at the issue of abrupt climate change and its potential impacts. This study differs from previous treatments of abrupt changes by focusing on abrupt climate changes and also abrupt climate impacts that have the potential to severely affect the physical climate system, natural systems, or human systems, often affecting multiple interconnected areas of concern. The primary timescale of concern is years to decades. A key characteristic of these changes is that they can come faster than expected, planned, or budgeted for, forcing more reactive, rather than proactive, modes of behavior.

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change summarizes the state of our knowledge about potential abrupt changes and abrupt climate impacts and categorizes changes that are already occurring, have a high probability of occurrence, or are unlikely to occur. Because of the substantial risks to society and nature posed by abrupt changes, this report recommends the development of an Abrupt Change Early Warning System that would allow for the prediction and possible mitigation of such changes before their societal impacts are severe. Identifying key vulnerabilities can help guide efforts to increase resiliency and avoid large damages from abrupt change in the climate system, or in abrupt impacts of gradual changes in the climate system, and facilitate more informed decisions on the proper balance between mitigation and adaptation. Although there is still much to learn about abrupt climate change and abrupt climate impacts, to willfully ignore the threat of abrupt change could lead to more costs, loss of life, suffering, and environmental degradation. Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change makes the case that the time is here to be serious about the threat of tipping points so as to better anticipate and prepare ourselves for the inevitable surprises.

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises

December 11, 2013 Comments off

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises
Source: National Research Council

Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the past million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in the Earth’s atmosphere for a very, very long time. Lacking action by the world’s nations, it is clear that the planet will be warmer, sea level will rise, and patterns of rainfall will change. But the future is also partly uncertain — there is considerable uncertainty about how we will arrive at that different climate. Will the changes be gradual, allowing natural systems and societal infrastructure to adjust in a timely fashion? Or will some of the changes be more abrupt, crossing some threshold or “tipping point” to change so fast that the time between when a problem is recognized and when action is required shrinks to the point where orderly adaptation is not possible?

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change is an updated look at the issue of abrupt climate change and its potential impacts. This study differs from previous treatments of abrupt changes by focusing on abrupt climate changes and also abrupt climate impacts that have the potential to severely affect the physical climate system, natural systems, or human systems, often affecting multiple interconnected areas of concern. The primary timescale of concern is years to decades. A key characteristic of these changes is that they can come faster than expected, planned, or budgeted for, forcing more reactive, rather than proactive, modes of behavior.

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change summarizes the state of our knowledge about potential abrupt changes and abrupt climate impacts and categorizes changes that are already occurring, have a high probability of occurrence, or are unlikely to occur. Because of the substantial risks to society and nature posed by abrupt changes, this report recommends the development of an Abrupt Change Early Warning System that would allow for the prediction and possible mitigation of such changes before their societal impacts are severe. Identifying key vulnerabilities can help guide efforts to increase resiliency and avoid large damages from abrupt change in the climate system, or in abrupt impacts of gradual changes in the climate system, and facilitate more informed decisions on the proper balance between mitigation and adaptation. Although there is still much to learn about abrupt climate change and abrupt climate impacts, to willfully ignore the threat of abrupt change could lead to more costs, loss of life, suffering, and environmental degradation. Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change makes the case that the time is here to be serious about the threat of tipping points so as to better anticipate and prepare ourselves for the inevitable surprises.

Estimating the Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault

December 9, 2013 Comments off

Estimating the Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault
Source: National Research Council

The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) measures the rates at which Americans are victims of crimes, including rape and sexual assault, but there is concern that rape and sexual assault are undercounted on this survey. BJS asked the National Research Council to investigate this issue and recommend best practices for measuring rape and sexual assault on their household surveys. Estimating the Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault concludes that it is likely that the NCVS is undercounting rape and sexual assault. The most accurate counts of rape and sexual assault cannot be achieved without measuring them separately from other victimizations, the report says. It recommends that BJS develop a separate survey for measuring rape and sexual assault. The new survey should more precisely define ambiguous words such as “rape,” give more privacy to respondents, and take other steps that would improve the accuracy of responses. Estimating the Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault takes a fresh look at the problem of measuring incidents of rape and sexual assault from the criminal justice perspective. This report examines issues such as the legal definitions in use by the states for these crimes, best methods for representing the definitions in survey instruments so that their meaning is clear to respondents, and best methods for obtaining as complete reporting as possible of these crimes in surveys, including methods whereby respondents may report anonymously.

Rape and sexual assault are among the most injurious crimes a person can inflict on another. The effects are devastating, extending beyond the initial victimization to consequences such as unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, sleep and eating disorders, and other emotional and physical problems. Understanding the frequency and context under which rape and sexual assault are committed is vital in directing resources for law enforcement and support for victims. These data can influence public health and mental health policies and help identify interventions that will reduce the risk of future attacks. Sadly, accurate information about the extent of sexual assault and rape is difficult to obtain because most of these crimes go unreported to police. Estimating the Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault focuses on methodology and vehicles used to measure rape and sexual assaults, reviews potential sources of error within the NCVS survey, and assesses the training and monitoring of interviewers in an effort to improve reporting of these crimes.

Data on People’s Self-Reported ‘Experienced’ Well-Being Could Help Inform Policies

December 5, 2013 Comments off

Data on People’s Self-Reported ‘Experienced’ Well-Being Could Help Inform Policies
Source: National Research Council

Gathering survey data on “experienced” well-being – the self-reported levels of contentment, joy, stress, frustration, and other feelings people experience throughout the day and while engaged in various activities — would be valuable to inform policies, says a new report from the National Research Council. In particular, data on specific actions intended to improve the living and working conditions of different population groups, including children or older adults, show promise in developing policies and practices in such areas as end of life care, commuting, child custody laws, and city planning, to name a few.

Extensive Study on Concussions in Youth Sports Finds ‘Culture of Resistance’ for Self-Reporting Injury; Not Enough Evidence to Support Claim That Helmets Reduce Concussion Risk

November 1, 2013 Comments off

Extensive Study on Concussions in Youth Sports Finds ‘Culture of Resistance’ for Self-Reporting Injury; Not Enough Evidence to Support Claim That Helmets Reduce Concussion Risk
Source: Institute of Medicine and National Research Council

Young athletes in the U.S. face a “culture of resistance” to reporting when they might have a concussion and to complying with treatment plans, which could endanger their well-being, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. The report provides a broad examination of concussions in a variety of youth sports with athletes aged 5 to 21. Overall, reported concussions rates are more frequent among high school athletes than college athletes in some sports — including football, men’s lacrosse and soccer, and baseball; higher for competition than practice (except for cheerleading); and highest in football, ice hockey, lacrosse, wrestling, soccer, and women’s basketball. Concussion rates also appear higher for youths with a history of prior concussions and among female athletes.

Although the committee that wrote the report examined useful scientific information to inform its study, it discovered that research about youth concussions is limited. To address these gaps in knowledge, the committee identified several areas for further research, including establishing a national surveillance system to accurately determine the number of sports-related concussions, identifying changes in the brain following concussions in youth, conducting studies to assess the consequences and effects of concussions over a life span, and evaluating the effectiveness of sports rules and playing practices in reducing concussions.

The Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World: Workshop Summary (2013)

October 31, 2013 Comments off

The Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World: Workshop Summary (2013)
Source: Institute of Medicine/National Research Council

The Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World is the summary of a workshop convened in January 2013 by the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Global Violence Prevention to explore value and application of the evidence for violence prevention across the lifespan and around the world. As part of the Forum’s mandate is to engage in multisectoral, multidirectional dialogue that explores crosscutting approaches to violence prevention, this workshop examined how existing evidence for violence prevention can continue to be expanded, disseminated, and implemented in ways that further the ultimate aims of improved individual well-being and safer communities. This report examines violence prevention interventions that have been proven to reduce different types of violence (e.g., child and elder abuse, intimate partner and sexual violence, youth and collective violence, and self-directed violence), identifies the common approaches most lacking in evidentiary support, and discusses ways that proven effective interventions can be integrated or otherwise linked with other prevention programs.

Patent Challenges for Standard-Setting in the Global Economy: Lessons from Information and Communication Technology (2013)

October 30, 2013 Comments off

Patent Challenges for Standard-Setting in the Global Economy: Lessons from Information and Communication Technology (2013)
Source: National Research Council

Patent Challenges for Standard-Setting in the Global Economy: Lessons from Information and Communication Technology examines how leading national and multinational standard-setting organizations (SSOs) address patent disclosures, licensing terms, transfers of patent ownership, and other issues that arise in connection with developing technical standards for consumer and other microelectronic products, associated software and components, and communications networks including the Internet. Attempting to balance the interests of patent holders, other participants in standard-setting, standards implementers, and consumers, the report calls on SSOs to develop more explicit policies to avoid patent holdup and royalty-stacking, ensure that licensing commitments carry over to new owners of the patents incorporated in standards, and limit injunctions for infringement of patents with those licensing commitments. The report recommends government measures to increase the transparency of patent ownership and use of standards information to improve patent quality and to reduce conflicts of laws across countries.

Elder Abuse and Its Prevention: Workshop Summary (2013)

October 24, 2013 Comments off

Elder Abuse and Its Prevention: Workshop Summary (2013)
Source: Institute of Medicine/National Research Council

Elder Abuse and Its Prevention is the summary of a workshop convened in April 2013 by the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Global Violence Prevention. Using an ecological framework, this workshop explored the burden of elder abuse around the world, focusing on its impacts on individuals, families, communities, and societies. Additionally, the workshop addressed occurrences and co-occurrences of different types of abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional, and financial, as well as neglect. The ultimate objective was to illuminate promising global and multisectoral evidence-based approaches to the prevention of elder maltreatment. While the workshop covered scope and prevalence and unique characteristics of abuse, the intention was to move beyond what is known about elder abuse to foster discussions about how to improve prevention, intervention, and mitigation of the victims’ needs, particularly through collaborative efforts. The workshop discussions included innovative intervention models and opportunities for prevention across sectors and settings.

Violence and related forms of abuse against elders is a global public health and human rights problem with far-reaching consequences, resulting in increased death, disability, and exploitation with collateral effects on well-being. Data suggest that at least 10 percent of elders in the United States are victims of elder maltreatment every year. In low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of violence is the greatest, the figure is likely even higher. In addition, elders experiencing risk factors such as diminishing cognitive function, caregiver dependence, and social isolation are more vulnerable to maltreatment and underreporting. As the world population of adults aged 65 and older continues to grow, the implications of elder maltreatment for health care, social welfare, justice, and financial systems are great. However, despite the magnitude of global elder maltreatment, it has been an underappreciated public health problem. Elder Abuse and Its Prevention discusses the prevalence and characteristics of elder abuse around the world, risk factors for abuse and potential adverse health outcomes, and contextually specific factors, such as culture and the role of the community.

Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine

October 23, 2013 Comments off

Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine
Source: National Research Council

The U.S. veterinary medical profession contributes to society in diverse ways, from developing drugs and protecting the food supply to treating companion animals and investigating animal diseases in the wild. In a study of the issues related to the veterinary medical workforce, including demographics, workforce supply, trends affecting job availability, and capacity of the educational system to fill future demands, a National Research Council committee found that the profession faces important challenges in maintaining the economic sustainability of veterinary practice and education, building its scholarly foundations, and evolving veterinary service to meet changing societal needs.

Many concerns about the profession came into focus following the outbreak of West Nile fever in 1999, and the subsequent outbreaks of SARS, monkeypox, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, highly pathogenic avian influenza, H1N1 influenza, and a variety of food safety and environmental issues heightened public concerns. They also raised further questions about the directions of veterinary medicine and the capacity of public health service the profession provides both in the United States and abroad.

To address some of the problems facing the veterinary profession, greater public and private support for education and research in veterinary medicine is needed. The public, policymakers, and even medical professionals are frequently unaware of how veterinary medicine fundamentally supports both animal and human health and well-being. This report seeks to broaden the public’s understanding and attempts to anticipate some of the needs and measures that are essential for the profession to fulfill given its changing roles in the 21st century.

New Report: Avoid Premature or Overly Broad Professionalization of Rapidly Evolving Cybersecurity Field

October 9, 2013 Comments off

New Report: Avoid Premature or Overly Broad Professionalization of Rapidly Evolving Cybersecurity Field
Source: National Research Council

The nation’s cybersecurity work force is too broad and diverse to be treated as a single occupation or profession, and decisions about whether and how to professionalize the field will vary according to role and context, says a new report from the National Research Council. Defined as the social process by which an occupation evolves into a profession, such as law or medicine, professionalization might involve prolonged training and formal education, knowledge and performance testing, or other activities that establish quality standards for the workforce.

The report suggests that professionalization measures in the field of cybersecurity should only be undertaken for specific occupations that have well-defined and stable characteristics, when there are observable work force deficiencies that professionalization could resolve, and if the benefits of professionalization outweigh the costs.

Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence

October 8, 2013 Comments off

Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence
Source: Institute of Medicine & National Research Council

In 2010, more than 105,000 people were injured or killed in the United States as the result of a firearm-related incident. Recent, highly publicized, tragic mass shootings in Newtown, CT; Aurora, CO; Oak Creek, WI; and Tucson, AZ, have sharpened the American public’s interest in protecting our children and communities from the harmful effects of firearm violence. While many Americans legally use firearms for a variety of activities, fatal and nonfatal firearm violence poses a serious threat to public safety and welfare.

In January 2013, President Barack Obama issued 23 executive orders directing federal agencies to improve knowledge of the causes of firearm violence, what might help prevent it, and how to minimize its burden on public health. One of these orders directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to, along with other federal agencies, immediately begin identifying the most pressing problems in firearm violence research. The CDC and the CDC Foundation asked the IOM, in collaboration with the National Research Council, to convene a committee tasked with developing a potential research agenda that focuses on the causes of, possible interventions to, and strategies to minimize the burden of firearm-related violence. Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence focuses on the characteristics of firearm violence, risk and protective factors, interventions and strategies, the impact of gun safety technology, and the influence of video games and other media.

Nonresponse in Social Science Surveys: A Research Agenda

September 30, 2013 Comments off

Nonresponse in Social Science Surveys: A Research Agenda
Source: National Research Council

For many household surveys in the United States, responses rates have been steadily declining for at least the past two decades. A similar decline in survey response can be observed in all wealthy countries. Efforts to raise response rates have used such strategies as monetary incentives or repeated attempts to contact sample members and obtain completed interviews, but these strategies increase the costs of surveys. This review addresses the core issues regarding survey nonresponse. It considers why response rates are declining and what that means for the accuracy of survey results. These trends are of particular concern for the social science community, which is heavily invested in obtaining information from household surveys. The evidence to date makes it apparent that current trends in nonresponse, if not arrested, threaten to undermine the potential of household surveys to elicit information that assists in understanding social and economic issues. The trends also threaten to weaken the validity of inferences drawn from estimates based on those surveys. High nonresponse rates create the potential or risk for bias in estimates and affect survey design, data collection, estimation, and analysis.

The survey community is painfully aware of these trends and has responded aggressively to these threats. The interview modes employed by surveys in the public and private sectors have proliferated as new technologies and methods have emerged and matured. To the traditional trio of mail, telephone, and face-to-face surveys have been added interactive voice response (IVR), audio computer-assisted self-interviewing (ACASI), web surveys, and a number of hybrid methods. Similarly, a growing research agenda has emerged in the past decade or so focused on seeking solutions to various aspects of the problem of survey nonresponse; the potential solutions that have been considered range from better training and deployment of interviewers to more use of incentives, better use of the information collected in the data collection, and increased use of auxiliary information from other sources in survey design and data collection. Nonresponse in Social Science Surveys: A Research Agenda also documents the increased use of information collected in the survey process in nonresponse adjustment.

The Future of the Sociology of Aging: An Agenda for Action

September 25, 2013 Comments off

The Future of the Sociology of Aging: An Agenda for Action
Source: National Research Council

The aging of the population of the United States is occurring at a time of major economic and social changes. These economic changes include consideration of increases in the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare and possible changes in benefit levels. Furthermore, changes in the social context in which older individuals and families function may well affect the nature of key social relationships and institutions that define the environment for older persons. Sociology offers a knowledge base, a number of useful analytic approaches and tools, and unique theoretical perspectives that can facilitate understanding of these demographic, economic, and social changes and, to the extent possible, their causes, consequences and implications.

The Future of the Sociology of Aging: An Agenda for Action evaluates the recent contributions of social demography, social epidemiology and sociology to the study of aging and identifies promising new research directions in these sub-fields. Included in this study are nine papers prepared by experts in sociology, demography, social genomics, public health, and other fields, that highlight the broad array of tools and perspectives that can provide the basis for further advancing the understanding of aging processes in ways that can inform policy. This report discusses the role of sociology in what is a wide-ranging and diverse field of study; a proposed three-dimensional conceptual model for studying social processes in aging over the life cycle; a review of existing databases, data needs and opportunities, primarily in the area of measurement of interhousehold and intergenerational transmission of resources, biomarkers and biosocial interactions; and a summary of roadblocks and bridges to transdisciplinary research that will affect the future directions of the field of sociology of aging.

New Directions in Assessing Performance of Individuals and Groups: Workshop Summary

September 12, 2013 Comments off

New Directions in Assessing Performance of Individuals and Groups: Workshop Summary
Source: National Research Council

As an all-volunteer service accepting applications from nearly 400,000 potential recruits annually from across the U.S. population, the U.S. military must accurately and efficiently assess the individual capability of each recruit for the purposes of selection, job classification, and unit assignment. New Directions for Assessing Performance Potential of Individuals and Groups is the summary of a workshop held April 3-4, 2013 to examine the future of military entrance assessments. This workshop was a part of the first phase of a larger study that will investigate cutting-edge research into the measurement of both individual capabilities and group composition in order to identify future research directions that may lead to improved assessment and selection of enlisted personnel for the U.S. Army. The workshop brought together scientists from a variety of relevant areas to focus on cognitive and noncognitive attributes that can be used in the initial testing and assignment of enlisted personnel. This report discusses the evolving goals of candidate testing, emerging constructs and theory, and ethical implications of testing methods.

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