“The Institute for Research on Innovation & Science (IRIS) is building a comprehensive data platform to track the flow of these highly skilled individuals into the economy.”

In Nature’s Comment: Watching the players, not the scoreboard, Julia Lane discusses how IRIS is developing new ways of assessing science that will better depict strengths and weaknesses, and lay the foundation for a healthy research ecosystem.  Instead of assessing the impact of R&D spending using conventional metrics, such as published papers, citations, patents, or awards, IRIS uses a more rigorous approach to quantifying the social and economic returns of funding like Billy Beane used statistical methods to win at baseball.  Plus the costs are less.

Lane also outlines the growing research uses of IRIS data such as calculating the proportion of researchers flowing to specific industries, which could identify sectors where highly skilled workers are needed.  She concludes “Investment in science can take years to bear fruit, but I am optimistic that sensible measurements of US science and scientists will help both flourish.”

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