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Science and Engineering Research in a Changing World personnel) that are not exceeded elsewhere. Of course, other nations will lead the world in specific fields or skills, but by striving for preeminence in selected research fields, the nation can focus its resources on research subjects deemed most promising or important for economic productivity and competitiveness, military strength, human health, environmental protection, or other national objectives. By being among the world leaders in major fields of research, the United States is “poised to pounce” when an important research development occurs either here or in any other country. When US researchers are working at the world level in all disciplines, they can bring the best available knowledge to bear on problems related to national objectives, even if the knowledge appears unexpectedly in a field not traditionally linked to those objectives. For example, by being among the world leaders in virology, immunology, and molecular biology, US researchers were able quickly to devise a test for HIV antibodies that helped to ensure the safety of the blood supply; and the United States could not have been the home of the emerging biotechnology industry without having been a world leader in molecular biology. US researchers also are able quickly to repeat and extend findings that occur in other countries, such as when high-temperature superconductivity was discovered in Switzerland. Much knowledge transfer takes place in the graduate science and engineering system. Only by working in the presence of world leaders can students in American colleges and universities prepare themselves to become the future leaders who will extend and apply the frontiers of knowledge. The excitement of working with the world’s experts in a particular field also is the best way to attract the brightest young students to that field, thereby ensuring its continued excellence. The federal government has accepted the general principle of across-the-board leadership, but no mechanism exists to implement it. The federal government should convene panels of researchers and other experts to compare US performance in particular fields of research with other countries’ performance. (A-1, A-2) These panels could identify emerging fields of interest, recommend budgetary changes, and examine opportunities for international cost-sharing. The panels also could recommend to the executive branch and Congress fields in which the nation should strive for clear leadership. Achieving national objectives in science and engineering research requires continuous development of human resources. Research that includes an explicit educational component contributes to these objectives more powerfully than research done independently of education. Government agencies generally should favor funding projects at academic institutions, as opposed to other entities, because they directly link research to education and training in science and engineering. (A-2) For more information on staying at the frontiers of science and engineering research: A-1. Science, Technology, and the Federal Government: National Goals for a New Era, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, 1993 A-2. Allocating Federal Funds for Science and Technology, Committee on Criteria for Federal Support for Research and Development, 1995 The US Needs a Unified Budget for Federal Science and Technology The federal government currently spends more than $70 billion a year on research and development, but about half that amount goes to preliminary production, system development, evaluation, and testing of existing technologies, as opposed to creation of new technologies. To enable the science and technology budget to be properly considered, a new budget category known as federal science and technology (FS&T) should be established. (B-1) The FS&T budget would be defined as federal funding for science and technology activities that produce—or expand the use of—new knowledge and new or enabling technologies. Spending in this budget category is now funded at about $40 billion per year. Comparing the institutional distribution of funds for research and development, as traditionally defined, with that in the FS&T budget illustrates the striking difference between the two concepts. Private industry performs the largest share of federally funded research and development as traditionally reported, but most of this work is downstream product demonstration, testing, and evaluation that would not be included within the FS&T budget. When the FS&T category is used, federal laboratories (both in-house and contractor-run) account for the largest share of FS&T (39%), followed by academic institutions (31%), industry (21%), and nonprofit and other institutions (9%). Note that the definition of the FS&T budget deliberately blurs distinctions between basic and applied science
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Science and Engineering Research in a Changing World and between science and technology. Complex relationships have evolved among basic and applied science and technology. In most instances, the sequential view of innovation implied by the terms research and development is simplistic and misleading. The FS&T budget would be more than just a new aggregation of numbers. Its use would enable the federal government to take a comprehensive approach to science and technology budgeting at key phases in the budgetary process. The president and federal agencies should develop a unified science and technology budget based on assessments of scientific priorities, promising new technologies, and national needs. Congress could then examine this budget as a whole before dividing it among the appropriations subcommittees, and it could monitor the science and technology budget as it passes through various budget steps. This unified approach to science and technology budgets would allow for tradeoffs among agencies, programs, and research institutions. It would enable government to shift funds toward high-priority fields, reduce or close projects that have become less important, and incorporate the results of program and agency evaluations. Particularly in times of fiscal stringency, a unified budget for science and technology would bring coherence to what has previously been a piecemeal approach to policymaking. (B-1) For more information on the federal funding of science and engineering research: B-1. Allocating Federal Funds for Science and Technology, Committee on Criteria for Federal Support for Research and Development, 1995 Vigilance Is Needed to Ensure the Quality of Research Beyond the allocation of resources to individual fields of research, how can government ensure that the research that it funds is of the highest quality possible? Government and the research community have distilled what we have learned from experience into several important principles. First, it is important to maintain the ability to change research directions as circumstances change. The pace of discovery has increased, and the time from discovery to innovation and commercialization is becoming shorter in many fields; this makes the flexibility and responsiveness of the research enterprise increasingly crucial. Indeed, the Ensuring the Integrity of Research The reported incidence of misconduct in research is very low, but any misconduct comes at a high price for both researchers and the public. Cases of misconduct in research breach the trust that allows researchers to build on each other’s work, as well as eroding the trust that allows policy-makers and others to make decisions based on scientific evidence and judgment. Breaches of responsible conduct in research can be divided into three categories: misconduct in research, questionable research practices, and other misconduct. The three types need to be distinguished to avoid counterproductive policies and regulations. Misconduct in research has been defined as making up data or results (fabrication), changing or misreporting data or results (falsification), and using the ideas or words of another person without giving appropriate credit (plagiarism). Such vague definitions of misconduct as “other serious deviations from accepted research practices” risk the possibility that researchers will be accused of misconduct for using novel or unorthodox research methods, even though the methods might sometimes be needed to proceed in research. Questionable research practices, which include such actions as inappropriate inclusion of an author in a list of authors or maintaining inadequate research records, can erode confidence in the integrity of the research process and waste time and resources. Researchers and their institutions need to discourage these practices through a broad range of formal and informal means, including education, institutional policies and procedures, and peer review. (C-3) Government’s role in addressing questionable research practices should be to support the efforts of researchers and research institutions to discourage such practices. Other forms of misconduct are not necessarily associated with scientific conduct and are best handled through generally applicable legal and social penalties. For more information: Responsible Science: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process, Panel on Scientific Responsibility and the Conduct of Research, 1992 On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, 1995 flexibility of the US research enterprise has been one of its great strengths. To make the research system more responsive to changing opportunities and national needs, government agencies should preferentially fund projects and individual scientists and engineers, rather than institu-
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