Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Indicators
The nation’s science and engineering (S&E) workforce and public and private sector investments in research and development (R&D) are essential to continued economic growth, improvements in the standard of living, and progress on many important aspects of well-being, including safety and health. CNSTAT has conducted in-depth reviews of the portfolio of data collection programs of the National Science Foundation on S&E education and employment and R&D by the federal government, industry, and academia, seeking to make each survey more relevant, timely, and cost-effective. A recently completed study identified various indicators of science, technology, and innovation (STI) for the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) to prioritize and develop, modify, and highlight in the future. STI indicators are vital to give policy makers a sense of how the United States compares with other countries and to help answer questions about the best use of government resources for bolstering the S&E enterprise. New CNSTAT studies are underway of R&D by the growing nonprofit sector and alternatives for redesigning the suite of S&E personnel surveys to adopt state-of-the-art data collection methods and make the best use of other data sources, including the American Community Survey.
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An ad hoc panel, convened under the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT), in collaboration with the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP), conducted a study of the status of the science, technology, and innovation (STI) indicators that are currently developed and published by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). After the study was completed in 2014, the panel released their final report, which included conclusions and recommendations on the topic.
The major focus of the panel was to assess and provide recommendations regarding the need for revised, refocused, and newly developed indicators designed to better reflect fundamental and rapid changes that are reshaping global science, technology and innovation (STI) systems. The study addressed indicators development by NCSES in its role as a U.S. federal statistical agency charged with providing balanced, policy relevant but policy-neutral information to the President, federal executive agencies, the National Science Board, the Congress, and the public.
The study involved assessing the utility of STI indicators currently used or under development in the United States and by other governments and international organizations. Based on these activities, the study panel developed a priority ordering for refining, making more internationally comparable, or developing a set of new STI indicators on which NCSES should focus on, along with a discussion of the rationale for the assigned priorities. NCSES is particularly interested in the international scope of STI indicators and the need for developing new indicators that measure developments in innovative activities in the U.S. and abroad. The forward-looking aspect of this study is paramount; NCSES requested that the panel’s foresight included the types of data, metrics and indicators that will be particularly influential in evidentiary policy decision-making for years to come. The panel produced an interim report at the end of the first year of the study indicating its approach to reviewing the needs and priorities for STI indicators.
Download Interim Report
Improving Measures of Science, Technology, and Innovation: Interim Report (2012)
On February 3, 2012, the Panel on Developing Science, Technology, and Innovation Indicators for the Future, co-chaired by Robert E. Litan and Andrew W. Wyckoff, released “Improving Measures of Science, Technology, and Innovation: Interim Report," which examines the status of the NCSES's science, technology, and innovation (STI) indicators. The report assesses and provides recommendations regarding the need for revised, refocused, and newly developed indicators designed to better reflect fundamental and rapid changes that are reshaping global science, technology, and innovation systems. It also outlines the international scope of STI indicators and the need for developing new indicators that measure developments in innovative activities in the United States and abroad. The report offers foresight on the types of data, metrics, and indicators that will be particularly influential in evidentiary policy decision-making for years to come.
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| Project Information|
Panel Biographical Sketches
Meetings and Workshops
Project Overview, and Presentations from Users of STI Metrics and Indicators
Workshop on Datasets, Frameworks, Methods, and Tools for Measuring STI Activities at National and Sub-National Levels, and for Developed and Developing Countries
Public Agenda (open session April 14 only)
Presentations on the Conceptual Framework for STI Indicators and from Staff of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Speaker Biographical Sketches
Discussion of Panel’s Interim Report, New Information on STI Indicators, and Panel’s Final Recommendations
Public Agenda (open session September 26 only)
Discussion of Collection of Measures of Human Capitol in STEM, NCSES’ Use of Administrative Records, and International Comparability and Redundancies in STI Indicators
Public Agenda (open session February 7 only)
Public Agenda (open session April 11 only)