On the basis of experiments in mathematics, immunology, and materials science and engineering, COSEPUP concludes that international benchmarking by panels of experts can provide an efficient and reasonably objective means of assessing the world leadership status of the United States in research fields.
The committee suggests further that such assessments can be completed in a timely fashion and at reasonable cost. Such a technique might be useful to policy-makers and federal agencies in evaluating their leadership status in research programs (for example, to comply with the GPRA).
In summary, benchmarking seems well suited to
Assessing whether US researchers in a field are among or behind the world leaders or are the world leader and determining the leadership status of the United States in particular subfields.
Identifying institutional and human-resources factors that are crucial to maintaining leadership status in a field.