In Search of Evidence-Based Science Policy: From the Endless Frontier to SciSIP is the latest publication from Elliott School Research Professor, and former Director of Science & Policy Programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Al Teich. In advance of the book’s launch, Dr. Teich reflected on both the book’s evolution and the evolution of US science policy research:
"When President George W. Bush's science advisor, Jack Marburger, gave the keynote address at the AAAS Forum on Science & Technology Policy in 2005, he criticized the science policy research community for failing to provide information that policymakers could use. I was troubled by his critique of my field but encouraged when the National Science Foundation (NSF) established a new research program to support work that could provide the basis for a more ‘scientific’ (i.e., evidence-based) science policy. When I was asked to give a talk to AAAS a few years later, I chose the evolution of science policy research as my topic and that lit the spark that led me to write this book.
The federal government, including NSF, has been engaged in science policy at least since 1950. It has created a series of research programs, each of which in turn has disappeared. I was surprised by the absence of connections between these programs. When the most recent one—the Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP)—was established in 2007 virtually no one involved in it seemed to be aware of the fact that a similar program existed from the 1970s to 1994.
With support from the SciSIP program, science and innovation policy research have been making significant strides in recent years. The advent of ‘big data’ and new computational capabilities and techniques for merging datasets are taking their places in science and innovation policy research. Yet to be seen is how useful these advances will be for policymakers, whether improved communication between researchers and policymakers and increased involvement of policymakers in shaping research can yield results that are both scientifically valid and relevant to policymakers."
Research Professor of Science, Technology, and International Affairs