Center of Science, Policy and Society Programs: Research Competitiveness Program
S&T Research and Analysis
RCP conducts research and analysis to guide the understanding and implementation of science and technology programs and policies. RCP staff review existing literature and data sources, identify gaps in understanding, and design processes to address challenging science and technology questions. In addressing these challenges, RCP is aided by a diverse network of experts in all areas of science and technology research, development, and innovation, from which tailored teams are assembled to assist each project.
RCP employs quantitative and qualitative tools, including design, distribution and analysis of surveys, and interaction with stakeholders through meetings, interviews, and workshops. RCP staff work closely with other science, education, and policy programs within AAAS to match the best in-house capability with the appropriate scientific expertise available in the broad science, engineering, and innovation communities. This allows us to cover a wide breadth of scientific areas as exemplified in the projects below.
Programmatic Analysis for the European Commission
The American Association for the Advancement of Science, through RCP, assisted the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and eutema Technology Management GmbH (a strategic technology management group in Austria) in a project to advise the European Commission in the design and selection of Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship (FET-F) programs rooted in information and communication technology (ICT).
Guided by an external advisory panel comprised of leading ICT researchers, administrators, and policy makers, RCP identified and collected information on dozens of previous flagship-like initiatives worldwide. A subsequent analysis was performed on six initiatives that best matched the goals of FET-F and offered potential lessons to be learned. To accomplish this analysis, RCP collected information from numerous sources, including planning documents, funding announcements, evaluation materials, previously published analyses, and initiative websites. Finally, using a defined protocol to guide discussions, twenty interviews were conducted with people intimately familiar with the initiatives to provide a personal context and reality-check for written documentation.
After reviewing the background materials and completing the interviews, information was synthesized and structured as responses to the criteria used in the interview protocol. While the accompanying analyses were not comprehensive, each initiative was analyzed in sufficient depth to elaborate critical design features, challenges, and success factors. In addition to analyzing each initiative, aspects that appeared to transcend specific initiatives were identified, potentially pointing to “best practices” that may be important for the design and implementation of an array of programs.
Review of the NSF Science and Technology Centers Program
In partnership with the AAAS Center for Advancing Science & Engineering Capacity, RCP is currently reviewing a large (~$60 M/yr) center-level funding program at the National Science Foundation. Under this grant, we are evaluating the achievements of the Science and Technology Centers (STC) program in each of its defined objectives: research, education, diversity, knowledge transfer, and partnerships. The review covers 17 STCs, ranging in technical areas from biophotonics to remote sensing of ice sheets. Starting in September 2009, we have utilized quantitative and qualitative approaches for the study, interacting extensively with stakeholders, conducting primary data collection as well as analyzing extant data to shape our findings and review of the program and provide guidance for its future. The final report is expected to be released in December 2010.