Supporting Research With Relevance, Reach, and Impact — NIJ’s Fiscal Year 2017 Solicitations

​February 6, 2017

I am honored to serve as the Acting Director of NIJ. In this, my first message from the Director’s Corner, I want to discuss our current funding opportunities with a focus on relevance, reach, and impact.

Research has ​to be relevant to real-world problems, reach all of those who can benefit from it, and show a positive potential impact on public safety and the administration of justice.

NIJ is committed to bring together the best minds from across scientific disciplines and justice professions to address the many issues faced by the criminal justice system.

Multidisciplinary approaches and partnerships continue to be a priority for this year’s solicitations, but simply funding and executing sound, and even innovative, research is not enough. Research has to be relevant to real-world problems, reach all of those who can benefit from it, and show a positive potential impact on public safety and the administration of justice.

To improve the relevance and impact of our research investments, we ask that applicants demonstrate the potential for significant advances that will improve criminal or juvenile justice in the United States. For example, we ask: What is the potential for your project to significantly improve our understanding of the problem, or to provide an innovative solution? Potential impact is a significant scoring factor in each of our research solicitations.

At the end of a research project, if we simply archive and move on from the results, what have we gained? Results must reach the broader research community — to build upon the body of knowledge — and the practitioners and policymakers who need the best available evidence when making decisions that affect our safety and security.

To ensure our research investments reach those who can benefit, we expect that each award will result not only in scholarly works commonly shared among researchers but also in products accessible to practitioners and policymakers in the justice system. For example, we call for award recipients to disseminate their research through trade publications, the development of training manuals and best practices, policy briefs, practitioner conferences, webinars, articles for newspapers or magazines, and letters to the editor.

It is this commitment to relevance, reach, and impact that we hope to instill in all of our researchers. Without these critical components, scientific research will be unable to advance justice, and it is with that in mind that we developed our current solicitations.

Spotlight on Open Solicitations

As in previous years, our solicitations encourage rigorous, innovative research to provide objective and independent knowledge that will inform the decision-making of the criminal justice community.

Although I encourage you to review all of our more than 25 open funding opportunities, I would like to describe some of our new or revised solicitations.

Research and Evaluation in Safety, Health, and Wellness in the Criminal Justice System (pdf, 42 pages) Drawing from our safety, health, and wellness strategic research plan, this solicitation promotes multidisciplinary research on stress and trauma within law enforcement, corrections, and individuals in violent communities to inform development of policies and strategies to promote safety in criminal justice interactions with members of such communities; the impact of parental incarceration on children; and the efficacy of services that respond to children exposed to violence. March 23, 2017
Research to Improve Officer Decision-Making (pdf, 39 pages) Policing requires rapid decision-making in potentially dangerous environments. NIJ seeks proposals for multidisciplinary research or evaluation projects to provide knowledge that can improve officer decision-making and enhance outcomes in police-citizen interactions. March 23, 2017
Understanding the Impacts of Policing Strategies and Practices (pdf, 39 pages)When crime reduction is the primary measure of success for a policing strategy, its collateral impacts on the community and the police organization, both positive and negative, are not explored. NIJ seeks multidisciplinary research to develop measures of impact that take into consideration not only crime reduction but also how policing strategies positively or negatively impact the individuals, neighborhoods, and communities policed, particularly as they relate to public trust and police legitimacy .March 23, 2017
Research on Reducing Violence in Communities (pdf, 37 pages) To advance crime prevention efforts, this new solicitation seeks to build practical, evidence-based knowledge of the factors that contribute to enduring violence reductions in communities that have suffered from persistently high levels of violence.March 15, 2017
Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Program (pdf, 44 pages)Often, a single case submission includes requests for analyses in DNA and non-DNA disciplines. This new competitive program will provide funding for public crime laboratories to enhance their capacity and improve efficiency in testing non-DNA evidence from cases that also involve a request for DNA analysis in order to ultimately reduce the backlog of DNA evidence.March 13, 2017
Strengthening the Medical Examiner-Coroner System Program (pdf, 43 pages) Death investigations performed by medical examiners or coroner offices are vital to criminal justice, but many offices lack adequate personnel, infrastructure, and resources. This new competitive program will provide the resources necessary to achieve accreditation and increase the supply of forensic pathologists nationwide through fellowships. March 20, 2017
Research and Evaluation on Victims of Crime (pdf, 40 pages)NIJ has a long-standing history of collaborating with the Office for Victims of Crime on research and evaluation projects. With this solicitation, NIJ seeks to build on four areas of interest to both agencies: victim/offender overlap; understanding violent victimization experiences of understudied populations; evaluation of victim-centered alternative justice models; and evaluation of victim service delivery models. March 14, 2017
Research and Evaluation for the Testing and Interpretation of Physical Evidence in Publicly Funded Forensic Laboratories (pdf, 38 pages) NIJ seeks proposals for research and evaluation projects that will identify and inform the forensic community of best practices through the evaluation of existing laboratory protocols, and have a direct and immediate impact on laboratory efficiency and assist in making laboratory policy decisions. The intent of this program is to direct the findings of the research and evaluation toward the identification of the most efficient, accurate, reliable, and cost-effective methods for the identification, analysis, and interpretation of physical evidence for criminal justice purposes.February 27, 2017

To invest in the future of the criminal justice system, we are also seeking to build the next generation of criminal justice researchers and professionals through a series of career development solicitations, listed in the table below​.​

NIJ Visiting Fellowship Program (pdf, 37 pages) This program brings experienced practitioners and policymakers with a strong foundation in applied research and evidence-building into residency at NIJ to support innovative strategic approaches for addressing high-priority criminal justice challenges.March 27, 2017
New Investigator/Early Career Program (pdf, 36 pages) NIJ is providing scholars awarded a terminal degree within the last four years the opportunity to propose research in social and behavioral or STEM disciplines that answers questions or addresses needs related to crime and justice.March 27, 2017
W.E.B. Du Bois Program of Research on Race and Crime (pdf, 42 pages)This long-standing program seeks to identify and understand the dynamics of the criminal justice system that may result in disparities based on gender, race or ethnicity, and culture.March 31, 2017

These solicitations embody the need for a wide variety of scientific disciplines and justice professionals to collaborate in order to solve our nation’s most pressing criminal justice challenges and identify ways to prevent and reduce crime and violence in our communities.

I hope you take the opportunity to consider applying and to identify ways to ensure your research is relevant to the field, reaches those who may benefit, and shows a positive impact on safety and justice.

Date Created: February 6, 2017