Research Quality Standards and Practices


Since our inception, we have supported high-quality, innovative research on issues of longstanding or emerging public interest. Over the years, this support enabled interdisciplinary research networks, such as the Network on Inequality and Social Interactions, the Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice, and the Network on Youth and Participatory Politics; research competitions such as How Housing Matters and the Research and Writing Grants Competition; and the work of many individual scholars and collaborations on a wide array of topics. Today, we continue this tradition of research support in a manner consistent with our mission to build a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. Our highest priority in funding research is to support cutting-edge work that furthers our strategic priorities; advances important local, national, and international debates; and informs smart decisions.

While we have always worked to ensure that research we support is of the highest quality, we are formally articulating a set of uniform research quality standards and practices to ensure consistency across our programs and as a guide to applicants seeking funding for individual research projects or institutional support. These standards are:

  • The research is being conducted in the public interest.
  • The researchers are committed to objectivity, and the research is independent and not connected to biased sponsors or clients.
  • The researchers are recognized or up-and-coming experts in the subject matter and are situated appropriately in their field, and the host institution is acknowledged as consistently producing excellent research.
  • The problem is well-formulated, the purpose of the study and its policy significance are clear, and the findings will advance knowledge.
  • The research questions are clearly formulated; the research plan is sound; the analytical frameworks are appropriate; and the research methods, data plan and general project management meet the most rigorous standards of the field or discipline.
  • If quantitative research, databases are publicly accessible for review by other researchers.
  • The institution has a plan or structure in place to validate the findings and review the policy and practical implications of the outcome of the research prior to release and publication.
  • The research findings will be broadly disseminated in a timely manner.

We are proud to support new, exploratory, and sometimes risky research and, therefore, are aware that, at times, some of these standards cannot be met. To that end, we have identified a set of best practices to ensure that the risks involved in research are known, transparent, and effectively managed. These best practices entail independent review of the research design and methods at the outset, as well as vetting of research findings prior to publication or dissemination. Ideally, research will also be independently reviewed periodically throughout the research process. On occasion, we may commission an external quality assessment and, when appropriate, may convene an advisory board or review panel for major research undertakings that we support. We expect that research institutions receiving general support will also adhere to these practices.

If you are being considered for a research grant, your program officer will discuss with you the ways in which we are integrating this policy into our grantmaking.

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