Science indicators are increasingly used in policy-making. However, failure to relate interpretations of specific measures to the historical development of science can lead to errors in assessing past investments and in prioritizing future investments. This article outlines some of these sources of error, and argues for the more systematic use of historical evidence in the formulation of science policy.
KeywordsScience Policy Reliable Evidence Science Indicator Small Business Innovation Research Past Investment
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Feller’s work was supported by Department of Energy–Office of Science Award DE-AC02-ER 30318 and by grants from Atlantic Philanthropies. Gamota’s work has been supported by the DOE. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the OECD Workshop on Measuring the Impacts of Science, held in Montreal in 2004. We have benefited considerably from discussions with William Valdez and Paul Stern and the comments of Minerva’s Editor, Roy MacLeod, and referees.