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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board On Behavioral Cognitive and Sensory Sciences
Board On Behavioral Cognitive and Sensory Sciences
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Second Call for White Papers

A Decadal Survey of the Social and Behavioral Sciences for National Security

The deadline for submissions is June 12, 2017. 
As part of the outreach and information gathering requirement, the decadal survey has two separate calls for white papers. Papers submitted in response to the first call (February 2017) can be found here. The first call asked for insights into the challenges and needs across a range of social and behavioral domains with implications for national security and intelligence analysis. The second call focuses on research solutions in the social and behavioral sciences to a variety of analytic challenges and needs (see more information below).

Click here to download these instructions in PDF format.

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Decadal surveys are a signature type of study conducted through the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, with a rich history of success in the physical sciences. These surveys gather ideas and feedback from the research community in order to develop a plan that shapes future research initiatives. This is the first such survey undertaken for the social and behavioral sciences (SBS). 

An ad hoc committee of experts has been appointed to conduct this decadal survey in order to identify SBS opportunities poised to contribute significantly to areas relevant to national security. The committee is tasked with engaging scholars throughout the social sciences (e.g., anthropology, demography, economics, political science, statistics, and sociology) and behavioral sciences (e.g., cognitive science, neuroscience, and psychology) to generate ideas for research. The committee will review a broad range of input and develop an agenda for research in and across disciplines that could enhance fundamental knowledge and benefit society in many ways. The committee will issue a public report with its conclusions and recommendations in 2019.

Use of Papers

The present call for white papers is one part of the process to develop a research agenda that can be used to guide investment decisions and application efforts in national security over the next 10 years. It is being issued to provide direct input from the scientific community into the SBS Decadal Survey. The success of this decadal survey depends in large part on such input; it will be important that voices and ideas are heard from a broad range of disciplines and research communities. The committee recognizes that much knowledge and techniques in all SBS fields -- beyond those normally associated with national security and international relations -- will have application to analytical capabilities and national security challenges.

The information gathered from these white papers will be used solely to inform this project and the work of the committee. The committee will review white paper contributions to plan its fall and winter workshops to be held at the National Academies, to plan other information gathering activities, and to guide its deliberations. The white papers will be posted on this page and available to the public and researchers.


It is anticipated that the white papers will identify research concepts, methods, tools, techniques, and new ideas that could advance knowledge in the following areas (but are not limited to these):

• Monitoring and measuring current and evolving events and phenomena, at the macro and micro level, in different societies (e.g., rise in leadership, government relations, military actions, social stability or unrest, injustices, population sentiment, information diffusion and belief formation, etc.)
• Analyzing and developing markers for such events and phenomena to anticipate change
• Modeling and/or improving understanding of behaviors of relevance to national security (including those with multiple actors)
• Predicting specific events and/or reactions
• Building analytic skill sets (i.e., workforce development, selection, training, human-technology interactions, performance management)
• Strategies and techniques for avoiding errors and biases in decision making
• Decision support for national security initiatives
• Building coordination and improving communication (i.e., between researchers, analysts, policy and/or decision makers and among teams)
• Support systems in the workplace (e.g., for managing workloads, volumes of data/information, stressful events, etc.)
• Strategies for identifying and/or mitigating incidences of insider threat


White papers should highlight the following elements:

1. Call attention to SBS research critical to this survey, either by
• Identifying recent advances and accomplishments in scientific observations, concepts, and/or theory.
• Reporting briefly on the status of existing SBS research activities and describe the scientific context in terms of fundamental concepts, scientific tools and techniques, recent research results and standing questions in the field.
• Considering new lines of investigation and the range of disciplines that should be involved, and whether there's value in linking data from multiple sources. Consider whether existing and planned research programs will provide the capabilities necessary to make progress in these investigations. If not, what additional research and investments are needed? 
2. Call out central questions that are ripe for answering and/or an area where there is unusual discovery potential in the social and behavioral sciences.
3. Call out any benefits for advancing fundamental knowledge in the SBS research domain for building analytic capacity to address national security challenges.


Authors do not need to necessarily frame their papers in terms of contributions to national security. The committee is tasked with identifying links in promising research ideas and applications to national security.


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Submission Requirements/Instructions

• Paper length is limited to 2000 words with up to 2 pages of references. Anything beyond these limits will not be reviewed.
• Paper title and author(s) should appear on the paper.
• Papers should be submitted in PDF format.
• There is a maximum single file size limit of 10MB.
• File Name Format: LastName_FirstName_PaperShortTitle
• Figures and tables published elsewhere should not be included. If such tables or figures are useful to your narrative, please instead provide citation information for the source and reference to the table or figure number.


Please note that all submissions will be listed in the Public Access File for this project and posted online. As part of the submission process, the principal author will need to agree to the terms and conditions on the National Academies’ consent form.

Responses are requested by June 12, 2017 to ensure that all papers are available for the committee's second meeting at the end of June.

Please direct all questions to Julie Schuck at or 202-334-3379.



Additional Information

The work of the committee and the SBS Decadal Survey is overseen by the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences (BBCSS), part of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) of the National Academies. This decadal survey is sponsored by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and is unclassified. This project kicked-off with a national summit that was held on October 4-5, 2016. The summit highlighted cutting-edge research in the areas of behavioral genetics, neuroscience, social interaction, and risk and decision-making. In addition, the committee's first meeting on March 23, 2017 featured research in linguistics, political psychology, and political science. This call for white papers is a way to capture an even broader scope of research and methodologies in the SBS fields.

This is the second call for white papers for this decadal survey. The first call requested information on the needs and challenges facing the intelligence community with respect to the use of SBS research for analytic capabilities. Papers submitted in response to the first call can be found on the project website.

We thank you for taking the time to prepare and submit a white paper. To receive notifications of public events during the course of this decadal survey, please sign up for the decadal survey listserv by emailing

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