, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 1–23 | Cite as

Public Value Mapping and Science Policy Evaluation



Here we present the framework of a new approach to assessing the capacity of research programs to achieve social goals. Research evaluation has made great strides in addressing questions of scientific and economic impacts. It has largely avoided, however, a more important challenge: assessing (prospectively or retrospectively) the impacts of a given research endeavor on the non-scientific, non-economic goals—what we here term “public values”—that often are the core public rationale for the endeavor. Research programs are typically justified in terms of their capacity to achieve public values, and that articulation of public values is pervasive in science policy-making. We outline the elements of a case-based approach to “public value mapping” of science policy, with a particular focus on developing useful criteria and methods for assessing “public value failure,” with an intent to provide an alternative to “market failure” thinking that has been so powerful in science policy-making. So long as research evaluation avoids the problem of public values, science policy decision makers will have little help from social science in making choices among competing paths to desired social outcomes.


Public values Research choice Research evaluation Science policy Market failure 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public Administration and PolicyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Consortium for Science, Policy and OutcomesArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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