January 2009 Issue Volume 37 Issue 1

to print a pagePrint This Page

Science Policy

Sociology is central to
"Science of Science Policy" (SoSP)

The President’s National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) released its "roadmap" on the social science of federal science policy formation at an early December 2008 workshop. Titled The Science of Science Policy: A Federal Research Roadmap, the 40-page November 2008 SoSP report (see scienceofsciencepolicy.net/root/default.aspx) was developed by a government Interagency Task Group of the NSTC’s Subcommittee on Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, which assists the president in coordinating science policy across the federal government. The process of innovation—from investments in basic research to social outcomes—is poorly understood and is begging for elucidation through research, datasets, modeling, and nurturing of a community of scientists addressing this topic, according to the resulting new Science of Science & Innovation Policy (SciSIP) program at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The newly released SoSP roadmap identifies 10 major science issues under three broad themes: (1) Understanding Science and Innovation; (2) Investing in Science and Innovation; and (3) Using the Science of Science Policy to Address National Priorities. The president’s science adviser, John Marburger, III, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, gave a keynote address at the workshop. He was the one who first urged the creation of a new area of investigation that he called the "social science of science policy" when he delivered the keynote address at the 2005 Science and Technology Policy Forum of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

science_policyMarburger had elaborated on this idea in a May 2005 Science magazine editorial and hoped to instigate a new research initiative that would "address the need for better scientific theories and analytical tools for improving our understanding of the efficacy and impact of science and technology policy decisions," as Congress and the President develop and allocate the nearly $140-billion annual federal R&D budget. Sociologist Susan Cozzens at Georgia Institute of Technology had spearheaded the planning of a 2006 workshop that got the SoSP roadmap planning under way. Since the establishment of the SciSIP program at the NSF in 2008, ten sociologists have received separate grants across most of the 11 topics of research in the initial round of awards. The awardees and the seven broad topical categories of their research include: The role of firms in innovation (John Walsh, Georgia Tech); Measuring and tracking innovation (Lynne Zucker, UCLA); Knowledge sharing and creativity (Marcus Ynalvez, Texas A&M International University); Human capital development and the collaborative enterprise (Juan Rogers, Georgia Tech); Returns to international knowledge flows (Susan Cozzens, Georgia Tech); Knowledge production systems (Jonathon Mote, University of Maryland and Walter Powell, Stanford University); Science policy implications (Fiona Murray, MIT); James Hearn, University of Georgia; and Barry Bozeman, University of Georgia. View the complete "Science of Science Policy" report at scienceofsciencepolicy.net/uploads/SoSP_Report.pdf.

John H. Thompson is named
NORC President

The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago announced in November that John H. Thompson has accepted the position of President. Mathematician Thompson has served as NORC’s Interim President since February and as NORC’s Executive Vice President for Survey Operations since he joined the organization in 2002. Thompson came to NORC after a distinguished 27-year career at the U.S. Census Bureau, where, as one the Bureau’s senior career officers, he had responsibility for all aspects of the 2000 Decennial Census, including management, operations, and methodology. He will replace sociologist Tom W. Smith. Thompson is an acknowledged expert in the field of social science research, with a special emphasis on large and complex surveys. His recent work includes serving as project director for the National Immunization Survey. NORC, founded in 1941, conducts high-quality social science research in the public interest. For more information, visit www.norc.org. logo_small


Back to Front Page of Footnotes