The Society for the
Study of Social Issues

SPSSI Policy News RSS Feed - June 3, 2009

By Christopher Woodside

Social Sciences and Policy
Released:  May 25, 2009


We are pleased to inform you that SPSSI Council has approved support for a one-time initiative to fund up to three special projects consistent with SPSSI’s priorities as described in our Strategic Plan ( At a time of economic challenges and tight foundation and federal research funds, we believe it is critical that SPSSI be a source of support for research programs that are less likely to receive funding from more traditional mechanisms.

Competitive responses to this RFA can include a range of research methods, and a broad range of content areas.  However, with respect to the latter, there is a strong preference for topics that are timely, unlikely to be funded through traditional mechanisms, and relevant to public policy.  

Example topics might include but are not limited to:

1. Implications of the current economic situation on the health and well-being of vulnerable populations.
2. Fear, hate and discrimination during times of limited resources, and strategies to transform division into shared interests.
3. The impact of global warming on vulnerable populations.
4. Federal education equity and minority/underrepresented populations.
5. Unequal access to health care, health disparities, and universal health care as a human right.
6. Marriage inequality, gay rights and societal equity.    
7. Human rights and illegal immigrants within U.S. borders.

Types of proposals that would be competitive might include but are not limited to:

1. Critical literature reviews of a timely topic with opportunity for publication in ASAP (assuming that peer review is positive) or other key journals, as well as a concise translation into a series of policy papers.
2. Focus groups on current topic that could be used as pilot data for a larger, fundable project through traditional competitive mechanisms.
3. Observational study of the impact of current events and/or policies on outcomes relevant to SPSSI’s mission.
4. Development and evaluation of a novel curriculum relevant to SPSSI’s mission to be shared with SPSSI members and other professionals.

Critical Dates

1. Full Proposal Due:  July 15, 2009
2. Review completed by:  August 15, 2009
3. Award Date:  September 1, 2009
4. Period of Funding:  Up to two years


1. Preference will be given to proposals from a multidisciplinary team of investigators, broadly defined with regard to expertise
2. Consistent with the objectives set forward within the SPSSI Strategic Plan (
3. A clear evaluation component
4. A translational piece with specific information on the policy-relevant implications of the findings and suggested strategies on how the findings might influence policy
5. A set of products of value to SPPSI [e.g., review paper(s), summary policy papers for targeted audiences, meetings with key policy makers or other policy-relevant organizations with shared
6. At least one member (but not all) of the team submitting the application must be a member or willing to become a member of SPSSI by award date.

Key Proposal Sections (Note:  Complete proposals are not to exceed 10 pages.)

1. Project description, including:
a. Introduction
b. Specific Aims
c. Method(s)
d. Analysis Plan
e. If relevant, confirmation that an IRB approval process has been initiated at the time of submission.  Note that although actual IRB approval is not required at the time of submission, approval must be provided before an award can be made.
2. Biographical sketch for the Principal Investigator and Co-Investigators
3. Facilities required (if any) and proof of access
4. Complete Budget and justification
a. Indirect costs are not covered under this funding mechanism.
b. Total funds available are $68,000 and SPSSI plans to fund up to three (3) grants 
c. Funding requests can be submitted for direct costs related to the project. This can be spent over a two-year period. Money can be used for a portion of staff salaries (e.g. clerical assistance and students), computing fees, travel, telephone, or other justifiable expenses. Faculty salaries are not covered by this mechanism.
5. Although cost-sharing from the recipient institution is not required, if such support is provided, a brief description is requested.
6. References used in the proposal.

Evaluation Criteria

1. Quality of study design
2. Expertise of the investigator(s)
3. How well the proposed research builds on existing social science research and theory
4. Feasibility of study completion during the projected time frame
5. Degree to which findings can translate to public policy
6. Degree to which the study is consistent with SPSSI’s Strategic Plan

Mechanism --  Cooperative Agreement:

The RFA is a cooperative agreement rather than a more traditional grant or contract.  As such, there will be a cooperative relationship between the award recipient and SPSSI. More specifically, Central Office representatives and a member of SPSSI’s Policy Committee will work with the award recipients in the development, implementation, and oversight of the recipient’s project.  Note that SPSSI’s role will be to help guide the project toward meeting its goals without being a cumbersome presence.

Submission Process:
Grants should be submitted electronically to SPSSI by no later than COB on July 15, 2009.  Late applications will be returned.  Submit applications to SPSSI’s Executive Director, Dr. Susan Dudley at

Questions about the initiative should be sent via email to  Note that questions and answers will be posted on the SPSSI website at so that all potential applicants have access to the same information.

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Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin