Science policy

From The Embassy of Good Science

Science policy

What is this about?

Through the determination of funding and goals of the scientific community, science policy influences core aspects of all sciences. Science policy defines direction for research activities through investments both in people and equipment. Science policies are usually developed by governmental bodies and/or other stakeholders with any kind of interests in science (e.g., theoretical, practical, financial).[1]

  1. Douglas HE. Science, policy and the value-free ideal. University of Pittsburg Press, 2009. JSTOR,

Why is this important?

Science policies address areas such as basic research, development of new technologies, and facilitation in bringing technologies to the market. They steer science into areas of importance and interest to society. Policies are determined by sets of values or priorities that policy makers have. In an ideal world policy makers should address the greatest needs of the community through the application of science policies, however the world of politics is far from an ideal one.

For whom is this important?

What are the best practices?

Different types of scientific policy may be adopted. Sometimes investment in basic research is preferred. In these cases the expectation is that some kind of breakthrough will result in a vast array of new technologies which will then be commercialized and pay back the investments. Other times the focus may be on technology development, and more support for engineering than basic science. The most extreme examples of such science policies are the Manhattan project[1] and the Space projects pursued by the US and the Soviet Union in the second half of the 20th century.

  1. Goldwhite H. The Manhattan Project. J Fluorine Chem. 1986;33(1):139-132.

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