Report suggests that global `yardstick' be the key to framing funding policy questions that are more answerable in practice

Despite some sharp critiques, scientists are giving serious audience to the proposals of a recent National Academy of Sciences report, Science, Technology, and the Federal Government: National Goals for a New Era (National Academy Press, Washington, 1993). The report lays out new guidelines for United States science research spending, including the recommendation that the U.S. set its funding levels by using the nation's international competition as a benchmark.

Among other concerns, some scientists question the report's emphasis on maintaining the U.S.'s standing in international research, instead of keeping primary focus on advancing national objectives.

"I don't have any problem with them emphasizing this as a very important criterion," says Arden Albee, dean of graduate studies at the California Institute of Technology. "After all, this is government funding. But if it was...

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