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The United States of America and scientific research

Hather, Gregory J.; Haynes, Winston; Higdon, Roger; Kolker, Natali; Stewart, Elizabeth A.; Arzberger, Peter; Chain, Patrick; Field, Dawn; Franza, B. Robert; Lin, Biaoyang; Meyer, Folker; Ozdemir, Vural; Smith, Charles V.; van Belle, Gerald; Wooley, John; Kolker, Eugene. 2010 The United States of America and scientific research. PLoS One, 5 (8), e12203. 10.1371/journal.pone.0012203

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Abstract/Summary

To gauge the current commitment to scientific research in the United States of America (US), we compared federal research funding (FRF) with the US gross domestic product (GDP) and industry research spending during the past six decades. In order to address the recent globalization of scientific research, we also focused on four key indicators of research activities: research and development (R&D) funding, total science and engineering doctoral degrees, patents, and scientific publications. We compared these indicators across three major population and economic regions: the US, the European Union (EU) and the People’s Republic of China (China) over the past decade. We discovered a number of interesting trends with direct relevance for science policy. The level of US FRF has varied between 0.2% and 0.6% of the GDP during the last six decades. Since the 1960s, the US FRF contribution has fallen from twice that of industrial research funding to roughly equal. Also, in the last two decades, the portion of the US government R&D spending devoted to research has increased. Although well below the US and the EU in overall funding, the current growth rate for R&D funding in China greatly exceeds that of both. Finally, the EU currently produces more science and engineering doctoral graduates and scientific publications than the US in absolute terms, but not per capita. This study’s aim is to facilitate a serious discussion of key questions by the research community and federal policy makers. In particular, our results raise two questions with respect to: a) the increasing globalization of science: ‘‘What role is the US playing now, and what role will it play in the future of international science?’’; and b) the ability to produce beneficial innovations for society: ‘‘How will the US continue to foster its strengths?’’

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1371/journal.pone.0012203
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 1 - Observations, Patterns, and Predictions for Biodiversity
CEH Sections: Hails
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: PLoS One is an Open Access journal. To access full text, please click on the OFFICIAL URL link
NORA Subject Terms: Data and Information
Date made live: 04 Jan 2011 14:16
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/12863

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