that has been done in measuring research outcomes and to provide a forum to discuss its methods. The workshop’s goal was not to identify a single best method or few best methods of measuring research impacts. The workshop considered methodological differences across fields of research to identify which can be applied to the broad range of federal research funding. It did not address the role of federal funding in the development of technology.
The workshop was motivated by a 2009 letter from Congressman Rush Holt (D-New Jersey). He asked the National Academies to look into a variety of complex and interconnected issues, such as the short-term and long-term economic and non-economic impact of federal research funding, factors that determine whether federally funded research discoveries result in economic benefits, and quantification of the impacts of research on national security, the environment, health, education, public welfare, and decision making. “Discussing the economic benefits of research is critical when discussing research programs during the annual federal appropriations process,” he wrote. Obviously, no single workshop could examine all of those questions, but it laid the groundwork for such an inquiry.
The workshop was sponsored by seven federal agencies: the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department of Energy (DOE). It was organized by a planning committee co-chaired by Neal Lane, Malcolm Gillis University Professor at Rice University and former director of NSF and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and Bronwyn Hall, Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Maastricht.
Consistent with Congressman Holt’s concerns, the planning committee focused the workshop on broad social effects of public research investments – economic growth, productivity, and employment, social values such as environmental protection and food security, public goods such as national security, and the behavior of decision-makers and the public. The near-term outputs of research—scientific publications and other communications, citations to previous work, research collaborations and networks, and even patents resulting from R and D—were a not a principal focus of the meeting. Arguably, scientific and technical training is a near-term output of research but was featured in the workshop discussion because of its relationship to job creation and