What should you do if you're targeted by Congress or people more interested in ideology than science? Karen Studwell, JD, senior legislative and federal affairs officer in APA's Science Directorate, offers these tips:
Prevent attacks from happening. Think about the public health relevance of your research even before you publish your results. Drawing on your grant application, develop a one-page statement about why your research is important, why the federal government should be funding it and what conclusions can be drawn from your findings.
Engage the media. If your research is being misrepresented, contact journalists or write a letter to the editor. Write op-eds about your research findings. Take advantage of media training, often available through your university's public affairs office or at APA advocacy training events. But keep in mind that sometimes it's best not to engage with everyone who misrepresents your research--particularly those outside the mainstream media whose primary role is to generate controversy. "They want attention and debate, so no response could be the best response," advises Studwell.
Remember you're not alone. Contact your university's public affairs office, APA, the Rockway Institute or other issue-specific organizations. APA is also a founding member of the Coalition to Protect Research, a group of 60 scientific societies dedicated to monitoring congressional attempts to rescind funding for individual grants and protecting the peer review process.
Stay calm. Even after a congressional attack on your research, it's unlikely you will lose your federal funding. APA responds to these attacks by working with Congress to ensure that as a bill makes its way through the lengthy legislative process, language targeting individual grants is removed.
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