April 27, 2020

COVID-19 Response: A Call for Ideas

Contact us
To speak with a scholar or learn more on this topic, visit our contact page.

The Mercatus Center, building on its COVID-19 policy brief series, welcomes proposals for policy briefs, working papers, and articles that address the next round of challenges facing the United States and other countries in the response to the pandemic. 

We seek clear, original ideas that address the following policy and social questions or take up related issues. 

Submit a proposal >>

Reopening and Restarting 

  • What does it mean to “restart” the economy, and what are the minimum institutional capacities necessary? 
  • How can we address liability issues associated with provision of emergency supplies (e.g., PPE) and a restarted economy? 
  • If local or regional viral outbreaks occur after restrictions are lifted, how should federal, state, and local governments respond? 

Institutional Challenges 

  • Can we measure whether civil liberties and economic freedom have been permanently affected by emergency policy changes, given that crises typically permanently reduce individual freedom on one or more dimensions? If so, how? 
  • What will happen to colleges and universities both this fall and in the longer term, and how will these changes impact other policies and sectors (e.g., student loans, philanthropy)? 
  • What will the responses to COVID-19 mean for federalism (both legal and fiscal) in the coming years? 
  • How can we institutionalize pandemic (and other disaster) preparedness in the future so that it is a persistent and ongoing part of organizational cultures in government, civil society, and the private sector? 
  • How can leaders (policymakers, scientific experts, and the media) better communicate to the public about the likelihood and risks of pandemics? And how should the public adjust its behavior based on this information? 
  • How will this crisis change public opinion and/or policy toward online privacy and internet access and regulation? 

Health and Science Policy 

  • How can HIPAA be reformed or updated to better address the exigencies of the crisis? 
  • What regulatory, legal, and liability barriers continue to hamper the more widespread adoption of telemedicine? 
  • How can the philanthropic sector or public sector incentivize “in-advance” antiviral therapies before future pandemics? 
  • How will changes to higher education, immigration, and philanthropy impact American and worldwide science and technology research? 

Economic and Regulatory Policy 

  • What is the aggregate likely impact of the pandemic on state budgets in the coming fiscal year, and how can states best address what will likely be significant shortfalls? 
  • How do we preserve the benefits of global supply chains while minimizing the costs of shocks? Are there critical industries that America should seek to onshore owing to threats to global supply chains? How can this be done in a way that minimizes cronyism and rent-seeking? 
  • How can we make permanent the many temporary reductions in regulation that have happened in recent weeks? 
  • How will the pandemic change global migration patterns in coming years, and what does this mean for American innovation, higher education, and economic growth? 
  • How do we respond to this crisis without increasing our nation’s current benefit cliff and the perverse incentives that face entry level workers? 
  • What will be the likely long-term ramifications on regional demographic patterns, and how will they affect housing prices, local governments, and education? 

Monetary Policy 

  • Should the Federal Reserve's “toolkit,” including its payment of interest on reserves and its quantitative easing practices, be altered during the crisis? 
  • How, and on what timetable, should the Federal Reserve address its ballooning balance sheet? 


Ideas for papers will be evaluated for their originality and for the quality of their exposition. Papers can take one of three general formats: policy briefs, longer-form working papers, and articles for the Mercatus Center’s online magazine, The Bridge. 

Policy briefs should be short (1,000–2,500 words) and tightly argued, with a clear audience and actionable recommendations. Working papers (6,000 words or longer) should make original empirical, theoretical, or normative contributions that will inform policymakers, the philanthropic sector, civil society, and the private sector. Bridge articles (750–1,500 words) should follow the style of a feature article in a public affairs magazine (such as The Atlantic or City Journal) and be accessible and informative to nonspecialists. 

Editorial Process 

Mercatus strongly recommends you submit a proposal before submitting a full draft. Proposals should contain a statement of a problem, a proposed solution, and a brief summary of the evidence and argument supporting that solution. 

Before you submit a proposal, please familiarize yourself with the Mercatus Center’s Conflict of Interest and Independence of Research policies. Every author that Mercatus works with is required to abide by these policies. 

Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and an editor will contact you if there is interest in moving your proposal forward. If your piece is time-sensitive, please mention that in your submission. Longer papers and articles will be reviewed and edited in accordance with our editorial standards and practices. 

Owing to the volume of responses, we are unable to respond to every proposal submitted. If more than a week has passed since you submitted a proposal, you can assume that it was not accepted. 


If your draft policy brief, research paper, or article is accepted, you will have the opportunity to work alongside the Mercatus Center’s media team to promote your research. Before writing an op-ed or pitching media related to your accepted proposal, you must notify Mercatus’s media team. We reserve the right of first refusal to place any op-eds related to your policy brief. All op-eds containing a Mercatus affiliation must be reviewed by our media team. 


Honoraria will be paid for successfully published briefs, papers, and articles following customary Mercatus Center practice. Terms will be set after a proposal has been accepted.

Submit a proposal >>