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--> -- When does the funding of research centers accelerate the development of interdisciplinary research and under what conditions is it less effective? -- How can the scientific tools of risk analysis, value-of-information analysis, and integrated assessments be applied to the selection process for infrastructure proposals to improve the process and the scientific outcomes? Conclusion. This report has focused on how to change the process of selecting infrastructure research projects in the behavioral and social sciences at NSF. At present, the selection process used by NSF for the evaluation and selection of infrastructure proposals in the behavioral and social sciences is the same as that for evaluating individual investigator proposals. Yet there are major differences between these two types of proposals in terms of purpose, effective duration, and outcomes. Accordingly, CBASSE recommends that NSF use a different process for the evaluation of infrastructure proposals. -- the criteria used to evaluate behavioral and social science infrastructure proposals should be specific to the strategic and technical purposes of the infrastructure; -- the duration of infrastructure grants should allow sufficient time for a thorough evaluation of their effectiveness; and -- proposals for infrastructure projects should include suggestions for specific criteria for their evaluation at both intermediate and final stages of the project. In order to facilitate continual improvement in infrastructure, the investment in infrastructure should be systematically measured and managed. Therefore, CBASSE suggests that NSF/SBE collect data on various kinds of scientific infrastructure for aggregation into periodic reports. CBASSE also suggests that NSF/SBE create an advisory process to focus specifically on changing research needs in the behavioral and social sciences, the capacity of current infrastructure to address these needs, the kinds of new infrastructure needed to advance these sciences, and improvements in the infrastructure allocation process. In 1976 an NRC committee studying the social sciences in the NSF concluded: In suggesting that there are major needs and opportunities, not now being met, for supporting large scale and long-term research, the Committee (on Social and Behavioral Science Programs in the National Science Foundation) is not proposing that the Foundation (NSF) depart from its basic practice of supporting the best-conceived, best-justified projects that come to it as unsolicited proposals. On the contrary, we believe that a considerable volume
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--> of good proposals for large-scale and long-term research would come to the Foundation if it were perceived as interested in entertaining them (National Research Council, 1976:44.) CBASSE members are convinced that this earlier finding is still relevant today.
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