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pare my NSF budgets to the bone. I do as genuine a job of presenting an economical budget as I can and I believe that many, many investigators do the same. Most, in fact.
Yet, in my own experience, I don't think I have ever had an NSF grant which was funded at more than 60 percent of requested funds, so that my record of approval is partly nominal. It's half as large as it would appear to be because—well, 60 percent—because there are a great many studies I have not carried out that it was my best judgment and that of the reviewers ought to be carried out, simply because there wasn't enough money.
Yes, I would say that we are grossly underfunding inquiry into the human mind, whether it be its linguistic skills or conceptual abilities, its problem solving, and so on.
Mr. Brown. What do you do when an important research project is funded at 60 percent?
Dr. LANE. I reduce the scope. I send a letter to the program director in which I say the following experiments which were part of the proposal will not be carried out and the following experiments will be curtailed in the following ways.
Mr. Brown. What is your experience with the amount of time spent by both successful and unsuccessful grant applicants in the preparation of the grants themselves? Has this, in your opinion, become a counterproductive effort ?
Is more time being spent in grant application proposals than research?
Dr. LANE. I completely agree with the implication of your statement. It's become ludicrously time-consuming. There is a measure in which the discipline of reviewing the literature, once again, and of stating your argument in its clearest and most forceful terms is a worthwhile exercise.
However, I would say that I spend 30 percent of my productive scholarly time rewriting grant applications.
Mr. Brown. That's a rather large figure.
No. It's a very serious problem. Because the underfunding is so severe, you have no choice. If you have a laboratory you have obligations. I have deaf collaborators. I have hearing collaborators who work with me on this research, staff assistants. I have an obligation to rely not only on NSF, but to turn to every possible quarter to get support.
That multitargeting of the research funding is extremely timeconsuming and expensive all up and down for the Federal agencies and for the principal investigators.
Mr. Brown. Could vou describe a typical research project of the sort that you would seek funding for, not in terms of the content of the research, but in terms of the time involved in research, the number of person years in it, a rough figure as to dollar amounts?
Dr. LANE. Well
Mr. Brown. I'm not asking for any exactness. Just give me a feel for what we are talking about here.
Dr. LANE. Well, I would say that in this paradigm case, the scope of the proposal depends on the scope of the research program that you want to mount. I would say that the paradigm case would be a psycho
logist or linguist who is requesting something on the order of $30,000 to $40,000 a year to allow him or her to pay subjects, to supplement what the university can provide so as to buy some equipment and some supplies, possibly to travel to one convention to read a paper, some publication costs, and maybe some funds for release time, either during the academic year or the summer.
When you add overhead to that at the rate of 76 or 78 percent of salaries and wages, you very rapidly reach $40,000, $50,000 a year.
Mr. Brown. This is a 1-year, 2-year, multiyear proposal?
Dr. LANE. Typically, my proposals have run 2 or 3 years. Then, they would be written again for an extension or a new direction.
Mr. Brown. We have speculated about the shape of the future and this has been the subject of a great deal of scholarly writing. The term that's generally used is a postindustrial or information society as rapidly coming upon us.
It seems to me that if we are talking about an information based society, linguistics should have some interest in this emerging revolution in the human condition. Are you accustomed to thinking in terms of research projects involving several disciplines and concerned with a larger framework of problems, in what we might call information theory or something of that sort, so that we have some bearing on the course in which the society is moving?
Dr. LANE. Yes, sir. I would say that that is a characteristic of modern inquiry into the human mind as I have called it, modern cognitive science. The programs that are supported by the—the research programs that are supported by the linguistics program and the memory and cognition program involve a range of disciplinary skills from computer science, psycholinguistics, linguistics, and many others.
I would say that the issue of information coding and decoding and transfer from one system to another is one of the central questions of our discipline. We are very much concerned with the ability of people to receive information and process it from such sources as computers, information channels such as the telephone, person-to-person communication, textual processing.
These are some of the central questions of our field.
Mr. Brown. Well, we have had many comments about the importance of research in the social sciences, particularly that which seeks a somewhat broader perspective than the narrow disciplinary perspective you might give. I'm not thinking for myself, but I see this in quite a bit of literature that I read.
Of course, if we are going to look at broad societal changes, it becomes more important that we look at this from as broad a viewpoint as possible. I'm wondering about whether the research in your field and the type of research grants encouraged by the foundation could lend any encouragement to this kind of approach, or whether it tends in the opposite direction., the more narrow focus in which there are rich areas for acquiring knowledge, as you have indicated.
Dr. LANE. I must say very honestly, Mr. Brown, that I have been very favorably impressed with the perspicacity and the comprehensiveness of the reviews of the language related proposals that I have seen in the National Science Foundation.
The panel itself is made up of people who are not all linguists, but represent psychologists, language development experts, computer science people, and so on. The outside reviews on which the panel and the program draw come from the full spectrum of scholarly knowledge.
The rigors of funding are so severe currently that there is just no chance of funding a project that is too narrowly conceived. You see, our problem is this. We are so desperate to avoid an error in funding that we err in letting really good projects go by the board. But, the reward, at least the countervailing consideration, is that you are not going to get very many bad ones through.
I have never seen a project funded in the years I was on the linguistics panel that I had any serious doubts about. It takes one well-reasoned, serious doubt to deflect a project because the funding is so tight.
Mr. Brown. I'm informed that the funding proposed for the next fiscal year is $2.8 million for the linguistics. I would presume that you feel that that could be increased substantially to fund a larger percentage of the proposals.
Dr. LANE. How important is it to us to understand the nature of the human mind?
Mr. BROWN. All right.
Dr. FARLEY. Thank you, Congressman Brown. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the funding of social science research.
When thinking about research, particularly the research supported by the National Science Foundation, three points need to be stressed. First, the social sciences have made advances in recent years and as a nation, we have become more dependent upon the findings of social scientists than ever before.
Nevertheless, our understanding of the organization of society and how change occurs is not very complete. Now is not the time, it seems to me, to curtail social science research. Rather, we should build upon the base which has already been established.
Second, social science investigations are costly. This is ordinarily not the type of research which can be done by a scholar working alone in a library. We often wish to study the characteristics, behaviors, or attitudes of specific groups of the population. This requires a sample and, once the data are gathered, computing facilities will be necessary also.
Third, the National Science Foundation plays a unique role in supporting research which is simultaneously basic and addressed to current social issues; that is, the Foundation's social science programs have consistently sponsored investigations which were both oriented to national needs and which made lasting contributions at the forefront of social science.
I wish to describe three of four examples of social science research which indicate, I believe, both past accomplishments and continuing needs. First, let me speak very briefly about political alienation. Professor Simon this morning spoke about worker alienation. The trend with regard to political alienation seems to be quite different.
Throughout the last decade, there have been a number of reports indicating that there is increasing political alienation in the United States. Some of those claims are made time and time again, but there are relatively few thorough investigations of the nature of alienation or trends over time.
Two sociologists, James House and William Mason at the University of Michigan have been investigating alienation. They find a sharp rise in most indicators of alienation. In 1960, about one-quarter of the national sample of the population agreed with the statement that "public officials don't care much what people like me think.”
By 1978, that had doubled and more than one-half of the sample of the population agreed with that statement. There have also been changes in the political participation. These are less dramatic but they suggest some increase in alienation.
The proportion of people who vote in elections has gone down a bit. The percentage identifying with a political party has decreased and there has apparently been a modest rise in the proportion of incumbents who are voted out of office by their constituents.
The reasons for political alienation are not clearly understood. However, the increase is not restricted to one group of the population. It seems to be common among all demographic groups and at all socioeconomic levels.
The preliminary findings of these investigators suggests that governmental actions in some specific sphere alienate an individual. Once that person is alienated, they seem to stay alienated, even if the Government adopts policies in other areas which are consistent with their own preference.
Let me turn to a second area where I think there are important contributions made by the social science investigations supported by the Foundation. This regards the People's Republic of China.
We are frequently told that rapid social change has taken place in the People's Republic of China. Supposedly a traditional rural society which was modernized very rapidly. The reports of travelers make dramatic claims which, if they are true, distinguish China from other developing nations.
Assertions are made that the fertility rate in China has been cut to a level much lower than that observed in some of the Western nations or in Japan. This implies that the Chinese have been uniquely successful in coping with demographic problems.
The complexity of urban difficulties associated with squatter settlements and extreme poverty which typifies many cities in Asia, in Africa and in Latin America is said to be absent in China.
Are those claims true? If so, how did China effect so many social changes so very quickly! Unfortunately, neither the reports of travelers nor the few Chinese governmental documents which are available provide convincing answers.
At this point, it is impossible for many Western social scientists to live in China and gather data there. However, two sociologists, William Parrish of the University of Chicago and Martin Whyte of the University of Michigan have done the best thing that can be done in this circumstance.
That is, they interviewed some of the participants in the social changes which have occurred in China. To be certain, these were mainland Chinese who moved into Hong Kong and thus, their sample hardly represents the entirety of mainland China.
Nevertheless, their findings tell us much about what has happened in the People's Republic of China. Apparently, the government of China built upon existing bureaucratic structures. Individuals are involved with tightly structured groups in their places of work and in their neighborhoods. Higher level bureaucrats announce governmental policies to these groups and instruct their leaders to influence the members of these groups. The groups then bring pressure upon their members to do such things as to maintain production in the factory, to prevent housing deterioration and to keep the size of families small, partially by delaying marriage.
The extent of such social control is apparently much less in rural China. However, the Government in China does have a thorough system for controlling the flow of migrants away from outlying provinces and this prevents a buildup of a surplus of rural population in the Chinese cities.
Let me turn to a third area involving the 1940 and 1950 censuses. Demographic processes in the United States have a great impact upon the future of the Nation and numerous governmental programs are oriented toward solving problems which have a demographic component.
Will the shift of population to the South and to the West have an adverse effect upon the North and the Midwest? Will the decline in the birth rate lead to changes in family organization or threaten the social security system? What are the consequences of unemployment upon families and what are the most effective strategies for mitigating unemployment? What are the social and political consequences of the substantial migration flow to this country of people from Mexico and the Latin American nations?
Many social science projects investigated these topics using data from the recent census and more will do so after this years' census is released.
However, as a Nation, we have faced many of these demographic issues once or twice before. Very low fertility rates, but extraordinarily high rates of unemployment were common in the 1930's. A rapid shift of population away from the South occurred between the two World Wars, and there was an influx of foreign immigrants during the first three decades of this century.
We can certainly better understand the nature of today's problems and we can evaluate alternative solutions if we know what happened in the past.
One of the most ambitious National Science Foundation social science projects will make the censuses of 1940 and 1950 available to policymakers and scholars. There has been a technological revolution in the social sciences and the computer permits us to analyze social phenomena in extensive detail. We are able to test many more hypotheses and find out the implication of more strategies than we ever could in the past.
The censuses from 1960 and 1970 are available in a fashion suited for such studies. However, an investigator who wants to determine whether unemployment patterns in the 1930's are similar to present unemployment patterns, or someone who wants to know if the cityto suburb migration changes in the 1950's was about the same as it is at present cannot do so. The National Science Foundation's 1940's1950's census project will unlock the data of those earlier censuses.