“Science and Engineering Indicators 2012” Released

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Publication date: 
3 February 2012
Number: 
14

“This  information clearly shows we must re-examine long-held assumptions about the  global dominance of the American science and technology enterprise.” These comments by National Science Foundation  Director Subra Suresh came on the day that the National Science Board released  “Science and Engineering Indicators 2012,”a 575-page report measuring and characterizing R&D, education, workforce,  academic, public attitudes and state data.  

Indicators  2012 is the 20th edition of this biennial report that has long been  regarded as “the gold standard.”  It was  prepared by NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics  (NCSES).  Rolf Lehming is the Director of  the Science and Engineering Indicators Program; Lynda Carlson is NCSES  Director.  Ray Bowen is the Chairman of  the National Science Board; Jose-Marie Griffiths is the Chairman of the  Committee on Science and Engineering Indicators. 

Indicative  of the high esteem this report enjoys was the crowd that spilled out into the  hallway when the report was released at a January 18 Capitol Hill briefing.  Among those attending was Rep. Rush Holt  (D-NJ) who called the Indicators report “the most important benchmark.”  As described in an accompanying document, the  Indicators report is “factual and policy-neutral; it neither offers policy  options nor make policy recommendations.   The indicators included in the report are intended to contribute to the  understanding of the current S&E environment.”

The  indicators call attention to discouraging trends.  The report charts the loss of high-tech  manufacturing jobs, estimating that 687,000 jobs have been lost since 2000.  That was the year the number of these jobs peaked at 2.5 million. The vast  majority – an estimated 85 percent - of new U.S. multinational corporate  R&D employment has occurred outside of the United States since 2004.  The United States still leads in total  R&D spending at $400 billion in 2009, with Asian region countries  approaching it at $399 billion.  The  percentage of American high-tech exports continues to decline, while that for  China has dramatically increased.

Indicators  2012 presents a diverse range of data and analysis that makes it an indispensable  source of information for anyone seeking factual insights on R&D and  related topics in the U.S., and in many cases in the larger world.  The eight chapter titles are indicative of  the report’s scope:

  • Elementary  and Secondary Mathematics and Science Education
  • Higher  Education in Science and Engineering
  • Science  and Engineering Labor Force
  • Research  and Development: National Trends and International Comparisons
  • Academic  Research and Development
  • Industry,  Technology, and the Global Marketplace
  • Science  and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding
  • State  Indicators

There  is also an extensive body of statistics accompanying the report.

The  National Science Board has released a graphics-rich presentation of some of the  most important indicators in the larger report.   This Digest   is important reading.    

Also  of note is a State Data Tool of 58 indicators of elementary/secondary education, higher education,  workforce, financial R&D inputs, R&D outputs, and science and  technology outputs.  This tool is  interactive, enabling users to examine one or more indicators in a variety of  formats.

When  releasing the report, Griffiths commented:

“Over  the last decade, the world has changed dramatically.  It’s now a world with very different actors  who have made advancement in science and technology a top priority.  And many of the troubling trends we’re seeing  are now very well established.”