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Measuring science investments
Date:2/11/2011

Measuring the results of scientific research has seen little federal focus until now.

A 2010 administrative memorandum calls on U.S. federal agencies and executive departments to develop tools to "better assess the impact of [...] science and technology investments."

Translation: There is increasing pressure to document the results of [...] research investments in a scientific manner, writes Julia Lane, Science of Science and Innovation Policy program director at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and her co-author Stefano Bertuzzi, Office of Science Policy at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

They make the observation in, "Measuring the Results of Science Investments," a Policy Forum paper appearing in this week's edition of the journal Science.

Lane and Bertuzzi examine critical questions for measuring the effects of scientific research. Is it possible to create such a system? What would be the inputs, outputs and structure of the system? What scientific disciplines should inform the formulation of such a model?

"It is important that the scientific community, together with the federal government, engage in describing the results," said Lane of the special burdens placed on measuring the fundamental and exploratory research that NSF is responsible for funding, but does not always show immediate results.

"Fundamental research is a long way from the market place, so there are long lags before any results are seen," she said emphasizing the need to be diligent and sensitive to the exploratory nature of basic research.

The coauthors note other countries already have begun developing systematic ways to describe the results of science investments.

The Higher Education Funding Councils in England has been conducting Research Assessment Exercises to gauge the quality and impact of funded research since 1986. In addition, last year, the Japanese government began creating a pro
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Contact: Bobbie Mixon
bmixon@nsf.gov
703-292-8485
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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