Summary of Report (full report can be downloaded at the bottom of this page)
Public and private investments in science and technology (S&T) have significantly increased over the past decades in Europe and the United States. The results have been transformative – ushering in the telecommunications and internet revolutions; providing better access to food, water, and shelter; improving health care; combating environmental degradation and climate change; and helping to inform policies to promote social and economic security.
It is essential that these investments continue to create value for the public. Indeed, national governments are increasingly asking complex and probing questions regarding the effects of their investments; they want transparency and accountability for the spending of taxpayers’ money; and they want their decisions regarding investments in science to be informed by data-driven analyses. Now more than ever before, the science community must explain and justify the spending on publicly-funded research. While it is clear that research pays off in general, there is great skepticism about both the marginal value of spending, and the chosen investment targets. There is a clear requirement to ensure greater effectiveness and efficiency in the use of public research funding; reduce the reporting burden on scientists; and to exploit the enormous analytical power generated by advances in information technology.
Experts from the European Union and the United States met at the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy, to examine these issues. The task at hand should not be underestimated. Although the potential return from this work is enormous, the scale of the challenge of developing these new ideas into workable solutions for policy makers is also very significant. Despite the major strides already made in the U.S. through the National Science Foundation’s Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP) program and the interagency STAR METRICS program, a shared approach with other nations would certainly both accelerate progress and implementation.
The purpose of the Bellagio conference was to explore the formation of a mutually beneficial multi-national collaboration in documenting the results of investments in science. The group believes science today is a global activity. Scientists and engineers collaborate across borders, move across borders and the benefits of their research know no borders. Expansion beyond current measurement systems could both broaden and deepen participation in science. 3
The participants at the Bellagio conference agreed that analysis of different research systems will provide a powerful evidence basis for guiding science policy. Such analysis can only be achieved via an international collaborative effort to establish and implement an interoperable platform that provides quality controlled data on research spending, output and impact.
The group expressed commitment to work together to develop a common global referential framework to support the analysis of the results of investment in science, and concluded that the global scientific community would benefit from:
1. Aligning efforts toward the development and implementation of (i) automated systems for the collection of standardized and validated data, and (ii) tools for the analysis of this data to determine the effects of science and technology investments.
2. Collaborative international scholarly research efforts in support of the Science of Science and Innovation Policy.
3. Aligning the efforts of global funding agencies to support a common institutional framework for the Science of Science and Innovation Policy
4. The recommended implementation of complementary data driven approaches, such as the STAR METRICS approach, to document the results of science investments in both the European Union and the U.S.