The Policy Response to Coronavirus and COVID-19: A Call for Papers

How Should Local, State, and Federal Governments Respond to Coronavirus?

This call for papers is closed. The Mercatus Center is now accepting a wider range of proposal submissions related to COVID-19 response. Learn more here.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is now accepting short (1,000–2,500 word) policy briefs on the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are looking for policy briefs proposing policy solutions, that are actionable, grounded on empirical evidence, well-established theories, and an expert reading of relevant literature. We wish to promote effective ideas that key-decision makers can implement as they respond to the crisis.

We are not looking for:

  • Op-eds.

  • Platitudes.

  • Briefs without policy prescription or without strong policy implications.

  • Briefs with overly broad policy prescriptions.

  • Briefs with vague policy prescriptions.

  • Work that is not anchored in extant empirical research on the problem.

  • A short version of a paper published elsewhere. However, an original application of previous work should be of interest.

Our target audience is decision-makers in (i) the federal and state public sectors, (ii) civil society (i.e. the philanthropic, nonprofit, and voluntary sector), and (iii) the private sector. Write for that audience.

Briefs should broadly address questions in one of two specific areas:

  • Immediate response: What is working now, or what could be done immediately, to address the economic, social, medical, epidemiological, philanthropic, and/or political challenges associated with the novel coronavirus?

  • Medium-term challenges: What challenges will exist, or magnify, in six to twelve months from now that scholars, analysts, business leaders, journalists, and public officials should begin to address now?

For example: While the below is by no means comprehensive, some possible questions to explore include:

  • What restrictions (statutory, regulatory, normative) are delaying research (i.e., social, economic, biomedical) essential to mitigating or curing COVID-19, and what specific actions could be taken to lift them?

  • How do federalism and polycentrism inform an optimal approach to pandemic responses, encouraging cooperation rather than beggar-thy-neighbor responses?

  • What is the legitimate role for government at the federal, state, and local level in responding to this crisis? What policies are necessary to allow the government to respond appropriately without overreach?

  • What responses are emerging at the local level? How are social networks and civil society responding in communities and what learning can be shared?

  • What fiscal or monetary policy responses are best? What has not been tried that might be effective?

  • How can Congress and other legislatures credibly commit to making short-term fiscal stimulus last only for as long as it is needed to address the effects of the crisis?

  • What will be the likely impact on global trade arrangements? What can be done short term to stop international commerce from grinding to a halt? What can multilateral institutions productively do? What (if any) changes should be made to our trade arrangements based on lessons learned from the crisis?

  • What will the fiscal impact of COVID-19 be on states and cities? What decisions do they need to make now to address a possible recession and significant downturn in tax revenues (while healthcare costs rise)?

  • What technologies (including disease treatments and vaccines) could be brought online within the next 30 days to ameliorate one part or another of the crisis if they weren’t caught up in an approval process? Under what authorities can approval processes be modified or waived?

  • How do we “signal boost” correct and share useful local knowledge?

  • How will colleges and universities deal with a possible enrollment dip? What opportunities exist as colleges shift under duress to online education?

  • What are the threats to the liberal order that we will need to confront six months from now?

Research in addition to these suggestions is encouraged.

Editorial process: Mercatus will conduct a robust internal review and then publish these briefs in a special COVID-19 series within 24 hours of receipt in most cases. Successful briefs will have original insight with clear exposition for a non-specialist audience.

Media: If your brief is accepted, you will have the opportunity to work alongside the Mercatus Media Team to publish any op-eds, and you must notify our team before pitching any media that corresponds with your brief. We reserve first right of refusal before your policy brief is pitched to media outlets.

Compensation: A $1,000 honorarium will be awarded for each published brief.