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National Research Council (United States)

The National Research Council (NRC) is the working arm of the United States National Academies, which produces reports that shape policies, inform public opinion, and advance the pursuit of science, engineering, and medicine.

The National Academies include:

Unlike the other three organizations of the National Academies, the National Research Council is not a membership organization.[1]


The National Research Council was organized on June 19, 1916 by the National Academy of Sciences under its congressional charter at the request of then President Woodrow Wilson. The purpose of the Council (originally called the National Research Foundation) was in part to foster and encourage ..."the increased use of scientific research in the development of American industries...the employment of scientific methods in strengthening the national defense ...and such other applications of science as will promote the national security and welfare." At that same time, the Academy's first effort to support that national defense readiness was created, the Committee on Nitric Acid Supply, approved by Secretary of War Baker. Nitric acid was the substance basic in the making of propellants such as Cordite, high explosives, dyes, fertilizers, and other products but availability was limited due to the War. The NRC thru its committee recommended importing Chilean saltpeter and the construction of four new ordnance plants. These recommendations were accepted by the War Department in June 1917 although the plants were not completed prior to the end of the war.[2] Wilson then formalized the NRC's existence in executive order 2859 in 1918.[3]

During the period that the United States was at war, the National Research Council operated as the Department of Science and Research of the Council of National Defense; also, as the Science and Research Division of the United States Army Signal Corps.[4] When war was first declared, the Council had organized committees on antisubmarine and gas warfare.[5]

In June 1, 1917, the council convened a meeting of scientific representatives of the UK and France with interested parties from the US on the subject of submarine detection.[6][7] The results obtained and the problems in the work were discussed. A further meeting with the British and French was held in Paris in October 1918 at which more details of their work was disclosed. As a result of this, the council recommended that US scientists be brought together to work on the problems. A New York Group worked on "supersonics" as did a San Pedro Group. A New London Group worked on binaural receivers, while Chicago and Wisconsin Groups were assigned various problems in support of the other groups.

Due to the success of Council-directed research in producing a sound-based method of detecting submarines, as well as other military innovations, the NRC was retained at the end of the war, though it was gradually decoupled from the military. The Research Council is currently administered jointly by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, and its work is overseen by a Governing Board and an Executive Committee.


The National Research Council or NRC, performs its studies and workshops through six major divisions; Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, Earth and Life Studies, Engineering and Physical Sciences, Policy and Global Affairs, Transportation Research Board, and the Gulf Research Program.[8]

Ralph J. Cicerone is the president of the National Academy of Sciences and the chair of the NRC.[9]

C. Daniel Mote, Jr. was the President of the National Academy of Engineering and Vice Chair of the NRC.[9]

NRC volunteers are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine as well as the wider scientific population. The members of its committees are chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance and serve pro-bono. All NRC reports go through an extensive external review facilitated by the NRC internal Report Review Committee (also consisting of members from the NAS, NAE, and IOM).

Report on climate change

In 2001, the Committee on the Science of Climate Change of the National Research Council published Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions. This report explicitly endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's findings as representing the view of the scientific community:

The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability. Human-induced warming and associated sea level rise are expected to continue through the 21st century... The IPCC's conclusion that most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community on this issue.[10]

In 2013, the NRC published the report, Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises.[11]

Report on Sexual assault

In 2013, council published report on unreported cases of rape and sexual assault in the US. The research council, noting that some 80 percent of sexual assaults go unreported to law enforcement, recommends the National Crime Victimization Survey adopt new approaches to interviews, including changing the wording of questions.[12]

Amber Stevenson, clinical supervisor and therapist at the sexual assault center, said one reason above others was responsible for stopping victims from coming forward.[12]

"As long as we as a community continue to make victim-blaming statements, such as, 'She put herself in this situation,' … 'She didn't fight back, she must have wanted it,' we will continue to see rapes go unreported," Stevenson said. "We have to stop blaming the victim. The conversation needs to shift to the person who chose to rape."[12]

See also


  1. "ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION OF THE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL Approved June 15, 2007". National Research Council. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  2. Rexmond, Cochrane (1978). The National Academy of Sciences: The First Hundred Years, 1863-1963. NAP. pp. 209–211. ISBN 0-309-02518-4.  This cite is the source for all of the material in this paragraph on the formation of the NRC during the buildup to WW I.
  3. A Chronicle of Public Laws Calling for Action by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, [and] National Research Council. Washington, DC: National Academies. 1985. p. xiii. NAP:11820. Retrieved 22 March 2014.  See also the NAS material on this period.
  4. National Research Council (U.S.) (1919). Organization and Members. The National Research Council. p. 3.  Accessed at Google Books
  5. Rexmond, Cochrane (1978). The National Academy of Sciences: The First Hundred Years, 1863-1963. NAP. pp. 209–211. ISBN 0-309-02518-4. 
  6. Michael S. Reidy; Gary R. Kroll; Erik M. Conway (2007). Exploration and Science: Social Impact and Interaction. ABC-CLIO. pp. 176–. ISBN 978-1-57607-985-0. 
  7. Howeth, Linwood S. (1963). History of communications-electronics in the United States Navy. Page 528
  8. "About the National Research Council". National Research Council. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Who We Are | | Where the Nation Turns for Independent, Expert Advice. Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  10. Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions
  11. "Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises". 2013. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Tony Gonzalez, The Tennessean (2013-11-19). "Study: Sexual assaults greatly underreported". Retrieved 2015-05-15. 

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