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Shutdown May Hinder International Research, Scientists Warn

While American education research has seen a rise in international partnerships and comparison studies, the ongoing federal shutdown could hamstring global research projects, warns the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"If the government shutdown continues for a week or more, it is going to make the United States less desirable as an international research collaborator," said Joanne Carney, director of government relations for AAAS, in a statement. "When funding is no longer reliable, many of our research partners may be unable to continue collaborating with us. That could eventually have longer-term impacts on American innovation and competitiveness."

On the other hand, international projects—which typically have multiple funding sources—likely will fare better during the shutdown than purely domestic projects. No new federal research grants are to be approved, and grants that do not have automatic payments, or that require oversight from federal program officers, will not be funded during the shutdown.

The shutdown already has delayed release of a long-awaited linking study between the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Trends in International Math and Science Study, and has caused furloughs of virtually all federal education research staff at the Education Department, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. Only up to 6 percent of 4,225 Education Department employees will work if the shutdown continues for more than a week, including only a handful of top presidentially appointed officers in the Institute of Education Sciences. In the National Insitutes of Health, 40,512 employees, or 52 percent of the workforce, is on furlough, and research activities have been stopped beyond care for existing clinical patients and laboratory animals. At the National Science Foundation, only 30 out of 2,000 employees remain on hand, mostly "to protect life and property."

"Once again, the U.S. government shutdown is an example of Congress attacking discretionary spending, and the most valuable element of discretionary spending—research and development—without addressing the fundamental budget challenges," said Matthew Hourihan, director of the AAAS research and development budget and policy program.

Want more research news? Follow @SarahDSparks on Twitter for the latest studies, and join the conversation.

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