As I found in my reporting of a July feature called linkurl:"Is science a good bet,"; it is a daunting task to figure out the economic impacts of investing in research. For decades economists have tried, but they've managed only to eke out a fuzzy sense of direction?meaning that the impact is positive, but no one really knows how positive, nor what an optimal investment might return. Yet the economics of research are of huge interest to the government, the scientific community, industry, taxpayers, and The Scientist's founder, Eugene Garfield. Each year he (through Research!America) gives out a $5,000 thank you to exceptional economists who dare enter the murky waters of research economics. Previous winners include the University of Chicago's Kevin Murphy and Robert Topel, whose work estimated that trillions of dollars are added to the economy from lives saved from recent medical breakthroughs. The window for nominations has been...

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