The Society for the
Study of Social Issues

Payoffs of Long-Term Investment in Research


14 February 2011

As we await the results of Congress’s bargaining over the 2012 budget, the Hill briefing held by the American Educational Research Association, the Education Dean’s Alliance, and the National Academy of Education, “The Payoffs of Long-Term Investment in Education Research” provided strong evidence of the vital role that field studies play in the formation of effective educational policies.

After presenting the models and findings of their work, the panelists, John Fantuzzo (University of Pennsylvania), Bridget Terry Long (Harvard University), Robert Meyer (University of Wisconsin – Madison), and Brian Rowan (University of Michigan) discussed why long-term investment is so important. A long list of reasons was covered including:

  • the challenges of producing longitudinal data
  • providing opportunities to learn and improve along the way
  • ensuring a framework of sound conceptual and theoretical planning
  • carrying out strong pilot studies and field experiments of methods
  • carrying out good data analysis
  • carrying out good archiving practices

Representatives from private foundations, Michael McPherson (President, Spencer Foundation) and psychologist Ruby Takanishi (President, Foundation for Child Development) then tacked some of today’s big questions: Does the nation benefit from large-scale studies of this kind? And, how do we pay for them? One of the most interesting aspects of these kinds of study is that they open up channels for new research and discovery and are therefore effective fund-raising tools in themselves. Other strengths of the studies is that they provide good answers to social issues when the questions are well defined, the advance the field in multiple fronts, and they open the door for other research projects.

Background on Budget 2012
Today President Obama announced his budget for 2012 which included proposed $148 spending on R&D across the federal government - an increase on 2011 levels. Republican leaders recently launched their own budget which would cut R&D by 21% from 2011 levels. Congress will wrangle over the final budget before the final version is signed into law by October 2011.

A list of proposed GOP cuts can be found here:

Full details of Obama’s proposals can be found here:

For more information on education funding and appropriations legislation, the AAAS has a large collection of information and numbers:


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