De-Facto Science Policy in the Making: How Scientists Shape Science Policy and Why it Matters (or, Why STS and STP Scholars Should Socialize)
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Science and technology (S&T) policy studies has explored the relationship between the structure of scientific research and the attainment of desired outcomes. Due to the difficulty of measuring them directly, S&T policy scholars have traditionally equated “outcomes” with several proxies for evaluation, including economic impact, and academic output such as papers published and citations received. More recently, scholars have evaluated science policies through the lens of Public Value Mapping, which assesses scientific programs against societal values. Missing from these approaches is an examination of the social activities within the scientific enterprise that affect research outputs and outcomes. We contend that activities that significantly affect research trajectories take place at the levels of individual researchers and their communities, and that S&T policy scholars must take heed of this activity in their work in order to better inform policy. Based on primary research of two scientific communities—ecologists and sustainability scientists—we demonstrate that research agendas are actively shaped by parochial epistemic and normative concerns of the scientists and their disciplines. S&T policy scholarship that explores how scientists balance these concerns, alongside more formal science policies and incentive structures, will enhance understanding of why certain science policies fail or succeed and how to more effectively link science to beneficial social outcomes.
KeywordsScience and technology policy Science and technology studies Social outcomes Social processes Ecology Sustainability science
The authors owe a debt of gratitude to all of their interview subjects—both ecologists and sustainability scientists–who helped to inform this work. This work has been stimulated in part by the collaborative atmosphere of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and the IGERT in Urban Ecology program at Arizona State University. The authors also thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and insightful comments. This material is based upon work supported by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. 0504248, IGERT in Urban Ecology at Arizona State University, and Grant No. 0345604. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendation expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.
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