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Alert: Take Action to Protect NEH Funding

Monday, January 23, 2017

Take Action to Protect NEH Funding The National Humanities Alliance has issued an action alert in response to news last week that a budget outline from the Trump transition team proposes the elimination of the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH). The NEH provides funding for political science research and other scholarly activities, including education, preservation, […]

Engaging and Disrupting Power: The Public Value of Political Ethnography

Monday, January 23, 2017

Engaging and Disrupting Power: The Public Value of Political Ethnography by M. David Forrest, Oberlin College [@MDavidForrest1] This article outlines the underappreciated public value of political ethnography. This value, I argue, stems from political ethnography’s ability to support democratic movements that hold important decision makers accountable to struggles for equality and freedom. Political ethnographic studies exercise […]

Former APSA President, Margaret Levi, Elected Fellow of the AAPSS

Friday, January 20, 2017

Margaret Levi, Stanford University Margaret Levi is the Sara Miller McCune Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford, Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow of Woods Institute, Stanford University, and Jere L. Bacharach Professor Emerita of International Studies in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. She became a fellow […]

Reducing Political Bias in Political Science Estimates

Friday, January 20, 2017

Reducing Political Bias in Political Science Estimates by L. J. Zigerell, Illinois State University [@LJZigerell] Political science researchers have flexibility in how to analyze data, how to report data, and whether to report on data. This article reviews examples of reporting flexibility from the race and sex discrimination literature to illustrate how research design choices can influence […]

Unipolarity And The New World Order

Friday, January 20, 2017

“Unipolarity And The New World Order” Panel & Presentation, 2016 APSA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA The roundtable panelists will discuss how long the United States will remain the world’s only superpower and how this unprecedented imbalance of power alters traditional patterns of world politics. Chair Michael Beckley, Tufts University Presenters G. John Ikenberry, Princeton […]

Help Preserve Federal Funding for the Humanities

Thursday, January 19, 2017

By: Beatrice Gurwitz, Assistant Director, NHA APSA is a member of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), a coalition of organizations who advocate for the protection and increase of funding for humanities research, teaching, programming, and preservation and access. With a new President and Congress taking office this month, it is time to redouble our advocacy […]

President Obama’s Legacy and Record

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Introduction: President Obama’s Legacy and Record by Michael Grossman, University of Mount Union A president’s legacy is difficult to gauge while he is still in office and many will argue it is often a task best left to historians, with hindsight allowing us to see the true significance of their policies. It must therefore be acknowledged […]

APSA News & Updates


Rulemaking Changes Status of Public Officials in the Common Rule

On January 19, a group of 16 agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services published a final rule updating the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects. Also known as the “Common Rule,” the regulations make changes to requirements for certain aspects of informed consent, institutional review boards (IRBs), and more. The final rule eliminates the current exemption excluding from IRB review research on public officials and candidates for public office that used methods like educational tests, surveys, interviews, or observation of public behavior without participation by the investigator. The majority of the rule’s provisions go into effect on January 19, 2018. A new requirement for U.S. institutions conducting cooperative research to use a single IRB, with some exceptions, will take effect in January 2020.

APSA opposed the removal of the exemption for public officials, warning that it would place unnecessary barriers to public inquiry of government institutions and representatives. Supplementary information included in the final rule makes note of opposition to this change and states that the new rule addresses these concerns in alternative ways through an  exemption provision in §__.104(d)(2) of the rule. The provision exempts surveys, interviews, and observation of public behavior from the Common Rule requirements under certain circumstances, including where “[a]ny disclosure of the human subjects’ responses outside the research would not reasonably place the subjects at risk of criminal or civil liability” or lead to specified types of damage. Additionally, the supplementary information notes that “If the research is designed to provide sensitive generalizable knowledge about officials, then the identifiable private information obtained should be kept confidential as required by this final rule.” However, if research aims “to hold specific elected or appointed officials up for public scrutiny, and not keep the information confidential” the activity does not fall under the definition of research as it pertains to the scope of the regulations.

Beyond the impact on research on public officials, the rule also creates new requirements for information shared with prospective research subjects during the informed consent process. A full summary of major changes accompanies text of the rule. The rule is wide-ranging and also includes notable decisions for scholars of other disciplines including history, journalism, anthropology, public health, and biological sciences.

For more information, please contact Abby Paulson at [email protected] or 202-349-9376.

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