Must Reading: Science and Engineering Indicators 2010

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Publication date: 
21 January 2010

“The United States holds a preeminent position in science and engineering (S&E) in the world, derived in large part from its long history of public and private investment in S&E research and development (R&D) and education. Investment in R&D, science, technology, and education correlate strongly with economic growth, as well the development of a safe, healthy, and well-educated society.

“Many other nations, recognizing the economic and social benefits of such investment, have increased their R&D and education spending. This trend will challenge the world leadership role of the United States.” - National Science Board, Key Science and Engineering Indicators, 2010 Digest

Anyone who is interested in science and engineering research in the United States, and why it is being challenged by other nations, will find “Science and Engineering Indicators 2010" must reading.  Released on January 15, this synthesis of literally thousands of different statistics is the best source of information relating to the conduct of science and engineering in the U.S.

“The Indicators are important because they tell us where we stand,” said National Science Foundation Director Arden Bement at a briefing held at the White House Conference Center.  Joining Bement was National Science Board Chairman Steven Beering who opened the briefing by describing the tremendous effort involved in the production of this compendium.  It is the nineteenth submission of this legislatively-mandated biennial report, and was submitted to the President and Congress.  The report was produced by the Science and Engineering Indicators Program of the Division of Science Resources Statistics within NSF’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.

The report, approximately 500-page long, has the following ten sections:

An Overview   Elementary and Secondary Mathematics and Science Education   Higher Education in Science and Engineering   Science and Engineering Labor Force   Research and Development: National Trends and International Linkages   Academic Research and Development   Industry, Technology, and the Global Marketplace   Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding   State Indicators   An Appendix with Methodology and Statistics

Each chapter contains a wealth of statistics in charts, tables, and graphs, accompanied by policy neutral explanatory narrative.  Accompanying the report is an appendix of 294 tables.

Louis Lanzerotti, Chairman of the National Science Board’s Committee on Science and Engineering Indicators, and also Chair of the Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics, discussed an important companion document to the full report that will make it more readily accessible to readers wanting an overview of the Indicators’ key findings.  The National Science Board produced this 18-page Digest of Key Science and Engineering Indicators that is important reading.  Six domestic and international topical areas draw on 31 selected indicators that are reviewed in two-page sections consisting of short policy-neutral summaries and accompanying exhibits.  Highlighting important trends and data indicators in a transparent manner, the areas discussed in this digest are:

Global R&D: Measuring Commitment to Innovation   U.S. R&D: Funding and Performance   U.S. R&D: Federal Portfolio   U.S. S&E Workforce: Trends and Composition   Research Outputs: Publications and Patents   Geography of S&T: Globalization of Capabilities
  The web version of the digest is highly interactive, with ready links to data tables, downloadable figures in Excel, PowerPoint, and Image formats, and links to the appropriate chapter in the full report and other references.  Also available is the ability to send the information to other parties.

Also appearing at this briefing were Jose-Marie Griffiths, a member of the Board’s Committee on Science and Engineering Indicators who discussed the globalization of science and engineering, and Kei Koizumi, Assistant Director for Federal Research and Development at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, who provided context and perspective on the report.

The Science and Engineering Indicators web site can be accessed here.   A first stop on this site should be the “Key Science and Engineering Indicators: 2010 Digest (NSB 10-02)” found in the upper right corner of this page.  Also on this site is a request form for a free CD copy of all the full report, the digest, appendix tables, and presentation slides.  Readers will find, as Bement stated, that this material is “a guide to the future.”

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