criteria include scientific and societal importance (both intrinsic to one Theme and interrelated with other Themes), logic of research sequence, evaluation of the costs and benefits, and the availability of human expertise, research infrastructure, and funding. Many frameworks for setting research criteria are available in published reports.
A National Research Council review of Charting the Course of Ocean Science in the United States for the Next Decade: An Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy (NRC, 2007) proposed the following questions to identify its priorities:
• Is the proposed research transformational (e.g., will the proposed research enable significant advances in insight and application, even with potentially high risk for its success; would success provide dramatic benefits for the nation)?
• Does the proposed research impact many societal theme areas?
• Does the research address high-priority needs of resource managers?
• Would the research provide understanding of high value to the broader scientific community?
• Will the research promote partnerships to expand the nation’s capabilities (e.g., contributions from other partners, including communities outside of ocean science, such as health science; unique timing of activities)?
• Does the research serve to contribute to or enhance the leadership of the United States in ocean science?
• Does the research contribute to a greater understanding of ocean issues at a global scale?
• Does the research address mandates of governing entities (federal agencies; state, tribal, and local governments)?
As indicated above, clear societally relevant objectives could provide one important focus for development of a framework for the National Ocean Acidification Program. Such a framework could help set priorities of the social and natural science research to inform the development of solutions to problems (see Box 2.1 for an example). Framing research goals through the lens of societal needs when relevant could also help determine the appropriate allocation of resources across the different Themes and research goals.
Setting priorities is not only important to ensuring that important societal needs are met, it is also critical when the broad goals of the Strategic Plan are juxtaposed with the realities of federal funding. Although the FOARAM Act specifies a ten-year program, the Plan describes the fiscal resources available to achieve its goals only for the President’s budget for a single year, FY 12. As Figure 2.1 reveals, the majority of the funding allocation is focused on Theme 1 (monitoring) and Theme 2 (research on ocean acidification impacts), $9.65 million and $14.43 million respectively.