This award will support doctoral dissertation research on the impacts of a recent decision in the federal government: To formulate science policy strategies based on scientific studies of innovation in science and technology. Implementation of this decision is referred to in the dissertation as "scientizing science policy," or SSP for brevity. The researcher will use an interdisciplinary approach to trace the emergence, history, and ongoing struggles within the SSP framework as enacted through the Office of Science and Technology Policy's Science of Science Policy (SoSP) and the National Science Foundation's Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP) programs. It will also assess the impacts of the SSP on shaping and evaluating SoSP and SciSIP programs in order to provide a better understanding of the promises, potentials, and lost opportunities presented by the SSP framework. The researcher will conduct in-depth interviews with policy and research community members who have been affiliated with or engaged in constructing the SSP framework as well as those who are outside the framework. The primary goal is to determine how the SSP framework was shaped and how it changed the landscape of US science, technology, and innovation policies and programs.

Intellectual Merit

Given the importance of SSP within the science, technology, and innovation policy field, understanding the historical dynamics of the SSP framework, through lens of Science and Technology Studies will offer new insights into the interactions between the realms of science, politics, and policy. It will also promote discussion of how the SSP framework creates either new opportunities or challenges for the science, technology, and innovation policy community. The results of this research should also promote further development of the SSP framework.

Potential Broader Impacts

Analyzing key processes of the SSP framework should offer opportunities to broaden the purview of the SSP framework to better integrate a range of social scientific perspectives. That should in turn provide resources for future SoSP and SciSIP programs; encourage the infiltration of Science and Technology Studies into SSP practices by suggesting new scientific toolkits, models, and data infrastructure for science, technology, and innovation policy; and it should contribute to the expansion of SSP research into previously excluded topics such as the assessment of non-economic societal impacts of science.

Project Report

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Since the early 2000’s, members of the US science policy community have sought to institute a more deliberately "science-based science policy" based on a new "science of science policy." This Scientizing Science Policy (SSP) discourse is posed as a counter-force to older ad-hoc and politicized forms of science policy. This research project documents the rise, development, and consequences of the SSP discourse, using the following methods: (1) a case analysis of the NSF’s SciSIP program and efforts within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; (2) a socio-cultural analysis of U.S. science and science policy activities; (3) documentary analysis of the Government Performance and Results Act and the Federal Program Assessment Rating Tool; (4) a stakeholder analysis based on 29 interviews; (5) a discourse analysis of the SSP and the politics of science; and (6) a comparative analysis between the SSP and the U.K./Europe’s Science of Science Foundation. Four key findings of the project follow: 1. The rise and development of the SSP discourse is a strategic and historically specific response to the government performance management movement that took hold during the G.W. Bush and Obama administrations. Performance reform in science and science policy was delayed compared to other public policy fields due to the inherent characteristics of science and scientific research such as the difficulty of quantifying the results of science. 2. The SSP discourse’s emphasis on evaluation, outputs, and outcomes represents a fundamental change in the social contract of science that has dominated U.S. science policy and politics since WWII. As such, this approach to science policy challenges existing relationships and authority among science agencies, Congress, and the White House in governing science, as well as the relationship between science agency managers and scientists. 3. The SSP discourse not only reflects, but also promotes the tendency of public policy makers, politicians, and the public to rely on scientific claims and evidence when they are engaged in discussions or policy decision making processes related to science and technology. 4. The SSP discourse is a contentious but valuable space in which heterogeneous actors can interact, learn from each other, and collaborate to develop U.S. science policy. Broader Impact: This project contributes to a better understanding of the practices and possibilities of a significant new public policy approach. A significant contribution of the project is its call to broaden the practices found within the SSP framework to include both qualitative social science analysis and greater public participation in framing and evaluating the scientific research that is geared towards shaping science policy. The project thus promises broader impacts for both the SSP community and the general public.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Frederick M Kronz
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United States
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