Center of Science, Policy and Society Programs: Research Competitiveness Program
Programmatic Review Services
The AAAS Research Competitiveness Program (RCP) provides expertise to assist in the planning, management, and evaluation of research and innovation to help institutions improve their research competitiveness and capacity. RCP staff members recruit and manage teams to review programs and strategic plans in scientific and technical disciplines, and in related areas, such as science policy, research infrastructure, and technology transfer. These services are individually-tailored to meet the specific needs of a project.
Typically, the institution seeking assistance provides documentary information to the RCP team in advance of a site visit or panel meeting. External review panels are composed of experts recruited for their expertise in the areas of the program initiatives, and one AAAS senior staff member. During the site visit, the panel interacts with stakeholders (e.g., administration, faculty, and staff) from the sponsoring organization to acquire further information, and to develop a set of preliminary findings and recommendations. The panel will provide recommendations on scientific and technical directions, management activities, supporting infrastructure and policies, and the evaluation process itself, if any or all need to be modified for the program to have the best chance of success. Subsequent to the site visit, the review panel prepares a final report that is coordinated and edited by the AAAS staff member and delivered in its final form as the AAAS report.
Types of Programmatic Review Services:
Policy/Infrastructure Reviews (e.g., Internet Technology and Intellectual Property)
Core Facilities Survey for the King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology (KACST)
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has embarked on a process to transform its economy from a natural resource, asset-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. This transformation has focused attention on research universities because investments in science and technology are required to achieve this goal. Saudi universities are engaged in a process to achieve international levels of excellence in science and engineering that will provide the foundation for the new economy, and establish them as peers of the outstanding technological universities around the world.
Given that the global challenges of importance to the future economy require multi-disciplinary approaches to achieve success, KACST is considering a new core facilities support program that will begin to bring diverse university research programs more closely together so that the synergisms of these interactions may be enhanced, while at the same time achieving economies resulting from reduced duplication of research facilities. In 2010, RCP provided external guidance to the Kingdom in the establishment of the core facilities support program. RCP recruited an external panel of experts to travel to Saudi Arabia, tour existing core facilities, and meet with representatives from a subset of universities to gain insight into the expertise, needs, and aspirations of the Kingdom’s university community.
Review and Guidance to State EPSCoR/INBRE Programs
Every year, RCP works with a number of states building statewide capacity in science and technology through the National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the National Institutes of Health IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE). Both programs are designed to build capacity through initiatives involving research, education, outreach, and communication. Initiatives must not only be tailored to state strengths, but must be nationally competitive.
RCP assistance to these state programs takes many forms. In preparation for submission of proposals to the funding agency, a state may commission RCP to review needs and/or to evaluate competing internal proposals for thematic areas of concentration. At the outset of an award, RCP can assist with the establishment of a strategic management and evaluation plan. During the course of an award, RCP provides review and guidance through regular panel visits. The visits and reports are valuable management and evaluation tools. RCP also works with states on selection of state Department of Energy and Department of Defense EPSCoR submissions.
RCP has its roots in the EPSCoR program, having been founded with a grant from the NSF EPSCoR office, and maintains a strong commitment to and appreciation of the principles and practice of EPSCoR and EPSCoR-like programs. To date, RCP has worked with over two dozen EPSCoR/INBRE states.
Assessment of the Research and Innovation Enterprise in South Dakota
In 2008, RCP led a panel that reviewed the state of South Dakota’s research administration and innovation infrastructure. The purpose was to advise a Governor-appointed committee tasked with preparing a business plan for science and technology-based growth in the state. The panel identified the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for research-driven economic development in South Dakota and proposed an organization that would support and coordinate research and technology transfer activities across the state. The panel's report on “Creating a Knowledge Economy in South Dakota” included strategies for strengthening the foundation of South Dakota’s research infrastructure and building the innovation ecosystem.
Review and Guidance of the Desert Research Institute
In 2001, and again in 2006, the Desert Research Institute (DRI) commissioned RCP to assemble and lead a National Science Advisory Committee (NSAC). Comprised of senior scientists from outside Nevada, the NSAC reviewed preparatory materials and traveled to DRI to meet with stakeholders and provide review and guidance to DRI on its research directions and support structure.