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Project Title:

Assessing the Value of Research in Advancing National Goals
PIN: DBASSE-DBASSE EO-11-03        

Major Unit:

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Policy and Global Affairs

Sub Unit: Ad Hoc Activity
Committee on Science, Engineering, Medicine, and Public Policy
Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy

RSO: Straf, Miron

Subject/Focus Area: Behavioral and Social Sciences; Policy for Science and Technology

Project Scope
A diverse panel of distinguished experts would be appointed by the NRC to conduct the study.  Its membership would reflect experience in science, engineering, business, education, and the public sphere.  The panel would investigate some of the many pathways through which research contributes to our economy and well-being and serves other national goals.  A particular pathway of interest is how research contributes to human and knowledge capital in government and private business through the training of a research workforce.  For its investigations of these pathways, the panel may commission case studies, including one or more that trace a successful innovation back to the basic and other research discoveries and ideas that enabled its development.

The panel would address the technical and other measurement issues for assessing (1) the quality of research output of universities and other research institutions receiving federal government support and (2) the potential societal impact of research in advancing national goals.  For this purpose, the study would:

*Review and synthesize the broad variety of efforts to assess research output and impacts in industry and government, including those of the NSF National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics and the NSF-NIH STAR METRICS program.

*Review the experiences of other countries, in particular the U.K., in assessing the impacts of research.
Draw upon relevant current and past NRC studies, including those of the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy.

*Explore various methodological approaches to measurement of research quality, productivity, and impact, including those that help to quantify the return on investment of research.

*Examine the explanatory power, predictive ability, and incentive effects of various measures of the potential impact of research on society, in particular to better understand the contributions and limits of these measures in science and innovation policy decisions.

The panel would also identify the research and data needed to develop measures or other means to assess the impact of research in advancing national goals and recommend priorities.

The purview of the panel would be all federally supported research, but the panel may need to be selective in examining some research areas in depth.  If so, the panel’s choices would range from basic research, which contributes to fundamental understanding, to use-inspired basic research, as described in “Pasteur’s Quadrant.”

The panel may also recommend how research could be better organized and supported to better contribute to national goals.  For this purpose, the panel would be asked to think creatively about how the U.S. research enterprise can further adapt to a competitive and highly linked world with a globalized economy.

The study is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
The approximate start date for the project is May 2012.
A report will be issued at the end of the project in approximately 30 months.

Note (04-04-2013): Only one report will be forthcoming from the study at its conclusion. No interim report will be issued as initially planned.

Project Duration: 30 months    

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Committee Membership
Committee Membership

 Meeting 1 - 01/10/2013
 Meeting 2 - 04/08/2013
 Meeting 3 - 07/22/2013
 Meeting 4 - 11/05/2013


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