Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Science of Science Policy

I recently discovered the Science of Science Policy website, affiliated to the United States (U.S.) Office of Science and Technology Policy. The U.S. Congress established the Office of Science and Technology Policy in 1976 with a "broad mandate to advise the President... on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs". The goal of the Science of Science Policy community is to "provide a scientifically rigorous and quantitative basis for science policy. The website provides a central location with news, information and research to help inform the Federal Government's science management decisions".

Closely related, the Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP) program was established at the U.S. National Science Foundation in 2005 in response to a call from John Marburger III for a "specialist scholarly community" to study the science of science policy. The program has three major goals: "advancing evidence-based science and innovation policy decision making; building a scientific community to study science and innovation policy; and leveraging the experience of other countries. A recent Science article highlights some of the issues addressed by SciSIP researchers."

Seventy-five SciSIP awards have been made to date. The awardees include economists, sociologists, political scientists, and psychologists as well as domain scientists. Some recent SciSIP awards (full abstracts available) which might be of interest to readers include Applied Visual Analytics for Economic Decision-Making and Universities, Innovation and Economic Growth. A report in the New York Times, from a couple of years ago, highlights a dataset that SciSIP funded jointly with the Kauffman Foundation, noting that it "tracks government-sponsored research for science and engineering and links it with government start-ups, patents, and other data. One goal of the research is to identify the characteristics of star innovators, scientists who are most effective in ushering research advances into the marketplace."

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