Third, the panel did not find any little-known, proven STI indicators and methodologies used by other countries that could be easily and inexpensively adopted by NCSES. New technologies for data collection are very promising, but none of them is ready for implementation at a federal statistical agency. This does not mean that NCSES’s STI indicators cannot be improved. Indeed, there are several recommendations in this report and others to follow in the final report that propose ways and means for NCSES to improve its STI indicators program.


The panel’s final report will offer a comprehensive set of recommendations (including those in this interim report) with priority rankings and implementation strategies, as well as a roadmap for how the recommendations relate one to another. Those recommendations are likely to require longer lead times for data and tool development, as well as coordination with specific divisions of other statistical agencies in the United States and abroad, than those included in this interim report. We will address the net value added of proposed indicators, and we expect to specify which data and indicators can be eliminated by NCSES. Criteria for prioritization will include policy utility and obtaining more comparability of STI indicators in the United States with those published by foreign organizations.

To develop those recommendations, the panel will carry out a wide range of work, including: gap analyses of current STI indicators; performance tests of key STI indicators; ways to improve measures of innovation, technological diffusion, and other key elements in understanding innovation; new data developments at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; the use of microdata; the possibilities of developing subnational indicators; data linking; the role of institutions and regulations; and NCSES’s potential role in coordination of federal STI statistics.


This interim report recommends near-term action by NCSES along two dimensions: (1) development of new policy-relevant indicators that are based on NCSES survey data or on data collections at other statistical agencies; and (2) exploration of new data extraction and management tools for generating statistics, using automated methods of harvesting unstructured or scientometric data and data derived from administrative records. Our six near-term recommendations are in descending priority order. The first five are about new and revised indicators; the sixth concerns new processes and techniques.

RECOMMENDATION 1: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics should explore methods of using existing longitudinal data on labor force mobility related to science, technology, and innovation activities in the United States and abroad. This work should include gap analyses and workshops with statistical agencies to determine how to achieve efficient management of datasets and statistics for human capital indicators. The agency should also use its own data resources, especially the Business Research and Development and Innovation Survey, for new employment measures.

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