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Considerations for Selecting Academy Studies

Background

The Committee on Studies and Publications assists the Academy’s Council in overseeing academic studies and publications. The Committee also reviews and submits to the Council and Board for approval all new studies undertaken in the name of the Academy.

The Committee works with the professional staff to support and encourage Members in developing new studies and publications, including issues of Dædalus.

The Academy initiates a limited number of studies in the following categories: multi-year task force and major commissions; large, committee-organized projects; short-term projects; and smaller, individual-led studies, as well as studies that may develop from activities supported by the Exploratory Fund. This portfolio approach allows the Committee to consider a wide range of topics that may or may not fall within the Academy’s current principal areas of study.

The Academy has two distinct, comparative advantages in undertaking scholarly inquiry and policy studies: 1) the breadth, distinction, and varied perspectives of its Members and 2) its institutional independence from government and partisan politics.

Proposals for studies may come from the Academy’s governance bodies, from committees of the Academy, from Members, or from others.

The policy of the Academy, approved by the Board of Directors, is that all Member participation in a study, including serving as Chairs, Advisors, and/or Principal Investigators, will be conducted on a volunteer basis. Exceptions must be approved by the Board.

Depending on the size and scope of the proposed study, the Committee on Studies and Publications will use its discretion in deciding how to apply the following considerations when choosing new studies.


Considerations for Studies

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences has established the following considerations for selecting new studies:

  • The study should serve the common good at the national or international level and advance goals that are important to the nation and/or the world.
  • The study should be impartial, independent, objective, and non-partisan.
  • The study should draw on the distinctive breadth and depth of the Academy’s membership and the Academy’s convening capacity.
  • The study should include a range of participants:
    • Fellows, Foreign Honorary Members, and other individuals from multiple institutions, preferably from throughout the country and when relevant from around the world;
    • The participants should represent multiple disciplines, professions, and backgrounds, and when appropriate have relevant policy experience.
    • The participants should possess the appropriate range of expertise and experience needed for the study.
    • The overall composition of the participants should be balanced in perspectives and points of view.
    • There should be a mix of senior and younger participants.
  • The study should explore themes or topics that require an interdisciplinary and/or multidisciplinary approach and that fall in one or more of the following categories:
    • Is abiding and of broad common interest.
    • Strengthens the infrastructure for research and education.
    • Is timely and addresses a current concern in the country and/or world.
    • Focuses on a policy that is either on the current agenda of government or ahead of it, and contributes to policy development, implementation, or evaluation.
    • Is speculative and knowledge driven, with an intellectual rather than a policy focus.
  • The study should approach a topic or issue from a fresh perspective, favoring topics that are new, neglected, or understudied.
  • The study should strengthen existing fields, reconsider fields, and/or explore new fields.
  • The study should be open to collaboration with other organizations, societies, and academies, when feasible and applicable.

Process and Procedure

Individuals proposing a new study are encouraged to contact the appropriate program officer at the Academy to discuss the proposed study topic and a draft proposal to ensure that it meets the considerations for selecting new studies established by the Academy.

Individuals proposing new studies should submit a proposal that includes the following information:

  • The questions to be addressed by the study and the relationship to previous work on the topic, including earlier studies of the Academy;
  • The study leader(s) and a list of proposed study members, and a description of the expertise and experience they bring to the study;
  • The specific activities of the study participants (meetings, workshops, conferences, lectures) and the estimated duration of the study;
  • A project budget estimate (including costs for follow-up activities) and potential sources of funding;
  • The intended audience;
  • Interim and final products, if applicable (white papers, reports, Dædalus, etc.);
  • Dissemination strategy and follow-up activities;
  • Proposed ways to assess the success and impact of the study, when relevant.

Individuals proposing a new study are asked to disclose potential conflicts of interest.

The Academy’s Board, Council, and Trust, the Committee on Studies and Publications, and other members may be called upon to review drafts of the interim and final products.

Proposals should be submitted to the Committee on Studies and Publications, care of Phyllis Bendell, Director of Publications.