Setting Research Priorities: A Taxonomy of Policy Models
Godinho, Manuel Mira
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In recent years there has been a wide discussion in S&T policy fora on the intrinsic value of countries defining S&T priorities. This paper addresses the international situation with regard to these issues, by comparing a group of 27 different countries. An empirical exploration of data regarding S&T activities in those 27 countries is carried out, in order to infer through cluster analysis different 'types' or 'models' of S&T priority setting. The analysis shows that two major patterns of scientific publication exist, with some countries concentrating on "engineering and technology" publications while others concentrate on "health-related" themes. A second important aspect is that some countries tend to select R&D areas targeting "socio-economic objectives" to be financed by public funds while others give priority to a more blue-sky research. Larger countries, namely those that have stronger military interests, tend to be part of the first group. Finally, it is shown that providing less earmarked funds does not necessarily mean lower private participation in national R&D activities. By illuminating what are the existing models of research priority setting the paper intends to have a practical value for both policy-makers and analysts.