NSF and William T. Grant Foundation Partnership to Increase the Use, Usefulness, and Impact of Research about Youth
Dear Colleague Letter: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2022/nsf22035/nsf22035.jsp?WT.mc_ev=click&WT.mc_id=USNSF_38&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
With this Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) notifies the research community of a collaboration with the William T. Grant Foundation (WT Grant) on a coordinated call for proposals focused on increasing the public value of scientific research: “Increasing the Use, Usefulness and Impact of Research about Youth.” The William T. Grant Foundation is a private philanthropy founded in 1938, that has been investing “in high-quality research focused on reducing inequality in youth outcomes and improving the use of research evidence in decisions that affect young people in the United States.”
Public and private sector decision-makers across the U.S. work hard to improve the quality of life of young people. Research findings can help them in that effort but only if certain conditions are in place. Those conditions include:
- Research findings are timely and relevant to the challenges that decision-makers face;
- Decision-makers have access to trusted research findings and the capacity to use them; and
- Research findings can be effectively used to improve youth outcomes.
Drawing on their complementary strengths, NSF and WT Grant are encouraging submission of proposals to help the public and private sector use research to increase quality of life for America’s youth. The public interest in this endeavor is significant – as research that improves the effectiveness of early interventions in youth-related challenges can produce sizeable and long-lasting benefits to society. At least three categories of research can help achieve this outcome.
1. Studies of research use will address ways to improve decision-makers’ use of research. Researchable questions include:
- What organizational conditions enable decision-makers to use research effectively?
- What strategies improve decision makers’ timely access to the research they need?
- Do school districts or community-based organizations involved in research-practice partnerships use research more routinely in their decision-making than agencies without partnerships?
2. Studies of research production will address ways to make research more useful in policy creation and practice. Researchable questions include:
- How can researchers design their studies to better produce the types of information policymakers and practitioners need in their work?
- What conditions enable and encourage researchers to pursue youth-focused research in collaboration with communities?
- What types of research communication allow decision-makers to better understand what works and when a finding from one context will generalize to another?
3. Studies of research impacts will address when and how using research findings improves youth outcomes. Researchable questions include:
- Under what conditions does using research in policy creation improve the well-being of youth?
- What is needed to ensure that research is utilized in an effective manner?
Proposals that do not fall neatly into one of these categories are also welcome, as long as they describe projects that can increase the use, usefulness, and impact of youth-oriented research. A wide variety of approaches are acceptable, ranging from qualitative to quantitative, from descriptive to normative, and from comparative case studies to large-scale data collection or analysis. Principal investigators can represent a sub-specialty or a multi-disciplinary team. Methodological rigor is critical. Proposals on topics related to youth well-being that do not focus explicitly on increasing the use, usefulness and impact of research about youth as described above are not appropriate for consideration under this partnership.