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Introduction .................................................................................................5
Closer links between science and innovation ..............................................5
Scientific production in OECD countries ....................................................6
University research at the heart of science systems.....................................7
Science funding: stable but increasingly subject to conditions .................10
Setting up regulatory structures and frameworks:
partnerships and entrepreneurship ............................................................15
The science workforce: adjusting to change..............................................16
Evaluation of institutions and researchers .................................................17
Science and information technologies: meeting the new challenges.........18
Problems specific to the social sciences ....................................................20
Preventing the widening of the gap between science
and the general public...............................................................................20
Conclusion: some policy issues .................................................................24

Bibliometric data .......................................................................................29
Financing of university research................................................................33
Management of the science base ...............................................................36



For some years now, science systems have been subjected to significant
pressures. These have created new tensions but also opened up new
opportunities. In today’s increasingly globalised economies, science systems are
expected to contribute still more to innovation, at a time when governments,
confronted with budgetary problems, are reallocating their support. At the same
time, science systems are having to contend with specific problems associated
with their own evolution: entry into new fields, ageing and renewal of research
personnel, adjustment to the new information and telecommunication
technologies, societal concerns in the face of certain aspects of scientific
“progress”, and so on.

The Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP), and more
specifically its Group on the Science System (GSS), has conducted a series of
studies and conferences to gain a better understanding of the changes taking
place and related problems. This brochure presents the main observations and
conclusions of this work. Publications resulting from these activities are
included in the references. Topics requiring in-depth study in order to provide
decision makers with further policy insights are also identified.

Closer links between science and innovation

The aim of science is to understand the laws of nature (and the characteristics of
societies); that of innovation is to develop and market new products and
processes. These two activities are therefore intrinsically different (OECD,
1998a; 1997a). Innovation involves certain activities that have little to do with
science, such as the relation to the market, technical development, creation of a
firm. Moreover, research results seldom lead directly from science to
innovation. In-depth studies on how innovations are developed show that

scientific research contributes to innovation indirectly rather than directly by
providing solutions to economic and societal problems, by transferring
instruments developed for research purposes to industry, by training researchers
who are later employed by industry (Martin and Salter, 1996). Moreover, when
asked about what led them to innovate, most firms ranked feedback from
clients, suppliers, etc., far ahead of basic research.

Moreover, the knowledge required for innovation differs from that produced by
science. In the latter, knowledge is structured and produced in a fragmented way
with little connection between disciplines and sub-disciplines, through a process
of deepening and accumulation. Between scientific advances and innovations in
the form of products or processes, knowledge is organised around technology
areas of a generic or multi-application nature. Here, progress is based on a
process of integrating separate elements. This is followed by dissemination,
and/or further integration, of technology into different applications at the more
detailed level of product development.

Yet, although their relationship is rather complex, innovation appears

increasingly to depend on scientific progress. While innovation often preceded
science in the distant past – the steam engine was invented well before the
discovery of the principles of thermodynamics – scientific advances
increasingly determine technological progress, as evidenced by developments in
electronics and, more recently, biotechnologies, where science and technology
are tightly interwoven.

Bibliometric studies, carried out in the United States in particular, show that
patents now rely more on academic scientific publications than they did in the
past (Narin et al., 1997). This phenomenon is undoubtedly encouraged by the
possibilities for automated access to scientific databases. It reflects a trend,
however, which is particularly visible in new sectors: information technologies,
health (pharmaceutical products and biotechnologies) and new materials
(Albert, 1998).

Consequently, the world is witnessing the rapid and varied development of a

body of knowledge at the science/innovation interface. This knowledge is
becoming increasingly interdisciplinary in nature, informal in character, and
practical in its applications and focus. It is sometimes referred to as “mode 2”
knowledge to differentiate it from classic scientific knowledge (Gibbons, 1994).

Scientific production in OECD countries

Bibliometric data, which measure scientific production in the form of

publications, provide information on the amount and orientation of scientific
activity in OECD Member countries (see Annex Tables A1-A3).

It appears that:

♦ The United States is the source of more than 30% of the articles published
in mainstream scientific journals. Well behind, with between 9% and 5%,
come Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

♦ In terms of scientific productivity (number of publications relative to

GDP), the Northern European countries stand first, led by the English-
speaking countries (the United Kingdom, Ireland).

♦ There are notable differences in terms of disciplinary specialisations.

English-speaking countries present a rather well-balanced profile, while
the Asian countries are more oriented towards engineering and technology
and the Nordic countries towards medicine and clinical research.

♦ There are also important differences among countries in the degree of

internationalisation, as measured by the share of articles with co-authors
from other countries. European countries, particularly the “small” ones,
show a high degree of internationalisation, while the United States and
Japan are much less internationally oriented. However, the degree of
internationalisation has increased substantially overall over the last

♦ Finally, in terms of links between science and innovation, countries show

significant differences. Links are strong in the English-speaking countries,
but weaker in the Nordic countries (Denmark is an exception), as well as
in German-speaking and especially Asian ones.

University research at the heart of science systems

The boundaries of science systems are not easy to define. There is a certain
blurring, particularly in terms of statistical measurement. What is the weight of
science systems in research systems, the boundaries of which are clearly defined
thanks to the Frascati Manual (OECD, 1994)?

On a very narrow definition, science systems can be equated with basic
research, which represents at most 15% of the total R&D effort. If academic
research is used as a (very imperfect) proxy, science systems account for
between 15% and 35% of the R&D effort (Figure 1) and 15% to 60% of the
related workforce (Figure 2). The share is greater in small developed countries
where public research is generally moderate and/or in less developed economies
(where industrial research is limited).

Figure 1. Percentage of GERD performed in the higher education sector

30 35 Netherlands
Canada Italy Iceland Sweden Norway

United Kingdom
Japan 20
15 Finland
15 Switzerland
Germany United States France

10 10
1985 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 961997 1985 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 961997

45 75
40 65
55 Turkey
35 Belgium Austria
45 New Zealand
Greece Mexico Poland
Ireland 25
20 15
Australia Hungary

15 5
1985 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 961997 1985 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 961997

Source: OECD, S&T databases, March 1999.

Countries vary widely in terms of the position of university research in the

science system and, more especially, relative to public research. Several profiles
can be identified, which are related to a country’s socio-cultural context and its
economic structure (OECD, 1998b; 1998c):

♦ In English-speaking countries, the university is the principal setting of

fundamental research, but there is also significant public research in
sectors of national interest, such as defence, energy, agriculture, medicine.

Public research bodies may undertake fundamental research, if the need
arises, but generally focus on applied research.

♦ In the larger countries of continental Europe, university research coexists

with a large public sector closely involved in fundamental research in its
own laboratories (e.g. the Max Planck institutes in Germany, the CNRS in
France, the CNR in Italy). Universities also carry out applied research,
either to provide R&D infrastructure (as in Germany) or for
mission-oriented activities (as in France and Italy).

♦ In other countries of continental Europe, public research tends to focus

essentially on applied research, while the bulk of fundamental research is
carried out in the universities. Here again, countries differ widely: in
some, like Norway, the public sector is large; in others, like Sweden and
Switzerland, it is very small.

♦ In the countries of eastern Europe influenced by the Soviet model,

university research was generally very limited (with some exceptions,
such as Poland). Academy of Sciences institutes conducted basic research.
Reforms undertaken since the beginning of the 1990s aim at increasing
research activities in universities while reducing, or even eliminating,
research in the academies. The R&D activities of the branch institutes,
which carried out industrial research, have declined considerably owing to
budgetary cuts and the adoption of a market economy.

♦ Finally, in the East Asian countries (Japan, Korea), where research has
generally focused on technical applications, the scale of university
research has been modest until recently, owing to lack of funding,
excessive regulation and constraints related to teaching commitments. The
situation is changing rapidly and these countries, especially Japan, are
now vigorously encouraging their own fundamental research.

Similarly, there are wide differences in the functioning of university research

and the behaviour of teachers/researchers in different university systems. In the
English-speaking countries, and particularly in the United States, academic
research, while adhering strictly to the usual criteria of academic excellence, is
well aware of the market principles that govern the economy as a whole and
thus evolves in a strongly competitive environment. Researchers are very
concerned with publication of their findings and are under constant scrutiny by
their peers. They are highly mobile, moving easily from one university to
another on the basis of offers received. They are strongly encouraged to obtain
contracts with industry, government agencies and local authorities in order to
finance their research. They often spend part of their career in the private sector

and have a greater propensity than researchers in other countries to set up their
own business. This pattern is very different from that in countries where
researchers are under less pressure, more privileged, less motivated to publish,
and less mobile. They also have fewer opportunities to diversify their research
commitments and careers.

Figure 2. Higher education researchers (or university graduates)

as a percentage of national total

50 50
Italy Switzerland
45 Finland
Canada 45
40 Netherlands


30 Germany 35
25 United States 30
20 Japan
United Kingdom 25 Denmark
15 Norway Iceland

10 20
1985 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 961997 1985 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 961997

70 80
65 Greece
70 Turkey Mexico

60 Portugal
60 Austria New Zealand
Australia 40
Belgium Hungary
35 Ireland 20

30 10
1985 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 961997 1985 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 961997

Source: OECD, S&T databases, March 1999.

Many countries are now concerned to revitalise their university and public
sector research systems and have introduced reforms to this end: reduction of
tenured posts, more competitive resource allocation, aids to researcher mobility,
and so forth. These reforms are encountering resistance from the unions and
research bodies concerned.

Science funding: stable but increasingly subject to conditions

Interestingly, in view of the increasing budget restrictions that have marked the
1990s, the governments of most Member countries have tried not to reduce their
support for scientific research. Various indicators confirm this: public funding
of university research, general funds to universities, and government R&D
spending on non-targeted research have remained stable or even risen against
other public R&D expenditures in relative terms, with the notable exceptions of
health and the environment (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Trends in the objectives of governments’ R&D budgets, 1989-96
Number of countries reporting increase or decline

General University Funds
Earth and Atmosphere

-15 10
-10 5
-5 0 5 10 15 20

1. Government budget appropriations or outlays for R&D (GBAORD) at 1990 GDP

Source: OECD, S&T databases, January 1998.

This indicates that the public authorities attach a good deal of importance to
basic research and consider it a public good justifying public support. The
continuing support for university research contrasts with the gradual withdrawal
of support to government laboratories engaged in research which is generally of
a more applied nature. Nevertheless, the relative share of public sector financing
of university research has diminished substantially in all countries (Annex
Table B1 compares funding levels between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s),
while that of the business sector has risen slightly. In fact, the main increases in
relative value have come from the increase of universities’ own funds (student
fees) and contributions from non-profit institutions.

Some important changes have taken place in the way in which government
support is allocated (OECD, 1998b; 1998c):

♦ In most countries, core (institutional) funding allocated to universities has

declined relative to project funding (Figure 4 and Annex Table B2):
allocation criteria for these funds have been severely tightened in the case
of funds allocated by research councils for basic research or made
conditional upon supplementary financing by industry for research of a
more technological nature.

♦ In most countries, there has been a steep increase in the numbers of

students enrolled in university, but in many, research funds, especially the
share from institutional financing, have not increased proportionately
(Annex Table B3). Thus, teachers are having to restrict their research
activities in order to meet their teaching commitments.

♦ University systems have diversified, particularly with the development of

technology institutes, which have started to undertake research activities.
This diversification is useful, but it implies more competition and greater
selectivity if an inefficient dispersion of funds is to be avoided. Too much
selectivity, on the other hand, may be detrimental, in that funds generally
go for the most part to the well-established universities.

♦ In general, research areas and costs have been growing at a faster rate than
the means at the disposal of the public authorities, who therefore face
difficult choices: should they concentrate their resources on priority areas
on the basis of known strengths and risk excessive specialisation or should
they maintain a balance among disciplines and risk the danger of
insufficient critical mass?

♦ The creation of centres of excellence has become widespread. For

governments, they represent a way to give concrete form to their
priorities, encourage interdisciplinary approaches and capture industry
interest, while ensuring the involvement of competent research groups. In
some cases, the centres are virtual in nature, drawing on the possibilities
offered by information and communication technology (ICT). As a rule,
support is given for a limited length of time (a few years) and renewed
only after evaluation.

At the same time, there is evidence of slow growth in funds from the private
sector, in part as a response to government initiatives. These remain modest,
however, not exceeding 5% of university research funding except in a minority
of Member countries (notably Canada, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, the

United Kingdom, and the United States). In no country does in-house basic
research in industry account for more than 10% of industrial research. Also on
the increase is funding by globalised firms seeking poles of competence
worldwide that meet their needs, while retaining the bulk of their own research
structures in their home country.

Figure 4. Changes in the pattern of government financing of science research,

Number of countries reporting increase or decline

HE direct

Government basic research


10 -55 0 5 10 15 20

Decline Little growth Growth Major growth

1. At 1990 GDP prices.

Source: OECD, S&T databases, November 1997.

All these developments are causing increasing concern in some circles, which
fear that the basic foundations of science in our societies will ultimately be
undermined by the “short-termism” that seems to characterise combined support
from the public and private sectors. Further in-depth studies will be necessary to
determine whether these fears are justified.

Supranational funding has become more and more widespread, particularly in

the European Union, owing to the strengthening of the Framework Programmes
and the development of structural funds allocated to R&D infrastructures in the
less developed countries. International funding can represent 10% or more of
the funds allocated to research. The balancing of national and international
funding has become ever more complex; nonetheless, there is agreement about
programmes that justify joint effort: very large facilities (CERN, for example),
large public infrastructure projects (transport, health), global issues (climate

At the same time, sub-national levels (local and regional authorities) are
becoming more involved in the financing of infrastructure and projects. Some
countries have a long tradition in this area (for example, Germany’s Länder
cover basic university funding); in other countries, regional efforts are the result
of laws in favour of decentralisation (France, for example). Everywhere,

however, institutions of higher education and associated research activities are
considered essential for making local economies more dynamic.

Setting up regulatory structures and frameworks: partnerships and


In response to the shifts in public funding policy, universities in several

countries have had to become more like businesses, if not to make a profit at
least to manage and develop their competencies so as to respond to “paying”
demand from firms, local authorities, international programmes, etc. The ability
to exploit these contacts depends, of course, on their location and the disciplines
in which they have expertise. Those specialising in technology and management
can easily form profitable partnerships with industry and the private sector; the
same applies to universities working with hospitals in the field of medical and
clinical research. In fact, outside funding may finance most of the research
effort of such universities. This is not the case for more fundamental research.

Nonetheless, the question of a change in universities’ status to facilitate their

integration into the economy is increasingly pressing and calls for consideration
of the steps to be taken to encourage the necessary changes. Privatisation of
public laboratories has also been on the agenda in a number of countries, even
for fundamental research far removed from immediate applications (as in
astronomy). Evaluations are needed to gauge the effects of these initiatives,
particularly on the nature of the research undertaken.

In any event, to stimulate their contribution to innovation, universities and

public laboratories have been encouraged to develop their relations with
industry through various types of partnerships and structures. The setting up of
enterprise incubators on campuses, the introduction of offices for technology
transfer and licensing, and so on, has caused changes in the internal culture of
many universities. It should be noted, however, that the success of these
operations depends largely on a dynamic atmosphere and the possibility of
attaining critical mass. The most active technology licence offices at
universities tend to be highly concentrated – in the United States, seven
universities account for about 50% of royalties from licensing agreements – and
earnings are far less than the resources gained from research contracts with
industry (20% of industry contracts in the case of the United States). There is
also a tendency to give universities priority over the teachers/researchers they
employ for the rights to intellectual property. Some fear that these trends will
inhibit individual creativity. More detailed studies are needed to determine their
possibly harmful effects.

Among the most powerful sources of innovation is researcher mobility to
industry, which can be particularly rewarding if it leads to enterprise creation.
However, the phenomenon is only significant in a few, principally English-
speaking, countries. This is partly due to the presence of factors unrelated to the
research environment, such as buoyant venture capital markets, and partly to the
fact that researchers in those countries have strong incentives and encounter few
obstacles. Adjustments need to be made in other countries as regards conditions
of reemployment, transfer of pension rights, return on capital investment in
nascent enterprises, etc. (OECD, 1998a).

The science workforce: adjusting to change

Differing disciplinary trends are causing major changes in demand for scientific
personnel. There is currently less recruitment in physics, chemistry and other
traditional disciplines than in biology, computer science, etc. Many countries
face adjustment problems, as there is a dearth of skilled personnel in some areas
and a surplus in others. These mismatches are more pronounced in countries
where education systems are inflexible. In several Member countries, moreover,
unemployment among scientists is on the increase, as they are also affected by
the slowdown in economic activity and by structural change – to a lesser extent
than the rest of the population, no doubt, but nonetheless significantly. The
problem is particularly marked in countries where young academics fail to find
employment or are obliged to settle for temporary post-doctoral positions.

The ageing of the research workforce is another reason for concern in a number
of countries, particularly in continental Europe. The researchers of the baby-
boom generation, recruited in large numbers during the 1960s, are now
approaching retirement age, and in some countries more than one-third of
scientific personnel will retire over the next decade. This will create a void
impossible to fill with the numbers now being trained. The situation is
aggravated by the fact that, in some countries, young people show a lack of
interest in science (OECD, 1997b).

In-depth analysis is needed to evaluate the scale of the problems. It should take
into account recent geopolitical, economic and technological changes that are
indirectly but dramatically transforming the world’s scientific labour market.
The opening up of the eastern European countries, Russia and China has greatly
increased the supply of high-level researchers, with varying degrees of negative
effects on recruitment of home-country researchers in firms and universities in
several countries. The globalisation of industry has also had an effect, as firms
now “shop around” for research to obtain best value for money. Finally, the
development of the Internet, by facilitating communication among researchers,

is likely to affect their mobility, without necessarily reducing it. It is necessary,
therefore, to grasp the implications of the various trends at work.

Evaluation of institutions and researchers

Governments, concerned to make public spending as cost-effective as possible

and to optimise resource allocation, have been placing great emphasis on ex
ante but, above all, ex post evaluation. Evaluation exercises have increased in
number in the agencies and ministries that finance research as well as in
university or public research establishments, on the basis of government

Here, again, the influence of national cultures and traditions is clear (OECD,
1997c). In some countries, evaluations, carried out according to very strict rules,
are closely linked to resource allocation. In other countries, evaluation is more
often seen as a way to facilitate and introduce reforms (sometimes very directly
when it has been necessary, as for the former East Germany, to adapt structures
drastically). In still other countries, evaluation focuses on institutions, more to
upgrade management efficiency than to stimulate reform. Finally, certain
countries, such as the Nordic countries, have a long-standing tradition of
evaluation and make extensive use of internationalised procedures to ensure that
their research meets international standards of excellence.

An examination of evaluation practices nevertheless reveals some general

tendencies (OECD, 1997c): designing evaluations as exercises for improving
understanding and behaviour by closely associating all the actors concerned;
going beyond purely quantitative assessments such as bibliometric
performances (OECD, 1997d) to introduce qualitative judgements (notably
through peer review); introducing criteria that take specifically into account not
only the production of research results but also individual efforts to demonstrate
their value and transfer them. The general view is that much remains to be done
in most countries to make these concerns part of the evaluation process.

In fact, it would be useful to develop procedures and criteria for evaluating

individuals with respect to the type of research activities they engage in. Those
who undertake theoretical and speculative research should be evaluated
differently from those who are in direct contact with industry and involved in
applications. “Entrepreneurial” researchers, those team leaders who seek out
financing of various sorts, cannot be evaluated on the basis of the criteria used
for researchers working in more traditional structures who rely essentially on
institutional financing.

Science and information technologies: meeting the new challenges

Initially invented for research and defence purposes, the Internet spread rapidly
to scientific circles. Surveys conducted in the mid-1990s showed that more than
half of US researchers used the Internet to communicate with one another.
Internet use has now become widespread in the developed countries and is
increasingly reaching the less developed parts of the world. The “Global
Research Village” offers both challenges and promise (OECD, 1998d; 1999a).

The ways in which research practices are being affected by the development of
telecommunications, and more especially by the Internet, remain unclear.
Communication has certainly intensified, facilitating the development of
collaborative work in particular, but it is not clear whether overall creativity is
increasing. “Peripheral” research teams certainly also now have easier access,
but it is unclear whether this is significantly altering the conditions of
competition between teams and their ranking.

On the other hand, the implications for the publication of results are
considerable. The raw data on which studies are based can be published with the
relevant articles. Peer-review procedures are being modified, if not adversely
affected, by the fact that work can be made known rapidly to large numbers of
people at a preliminary stage. “Soft-copy” journals can and are being
developed. The attribution of intellectual property rights is likely to be
profoundly affected, and new rules and procedures need to be devised. Little
real progress has been made on this front in recent years, despite early
recognition of the problems by researchers and publishers alike.

The development of information and telecommunication facilities holds

immense potential for the renewal of the research infrastructure: very large-
scale international databases, digital libraries with almost infinite storage
capacities, virtual laboratories that can draw together research teams from all
over the world, etc. Countries are exploiting these opportunities with varying
degrees of enthusiasm and boldness. It is important to examine the implications
for science systems of the different initiatives being taken here and there, at
more or less experimental stages.

Very important developments are also taking place in the telecommunications

infrastructure, which, thanks to advances in digitalisation, make possible
massive increases in data transmission and storage capacities, while lowering
costs. In this regard, there are significant gaps in planning for equipment
between North America and the rest of the world, including Europe and Asia
(Table 1). This is a matter of concern in some circles and may in fact create a
regional imbalance that could persist and cause problems.

Table 1. Infrastructure and information technology networks*

Europe United States Japan/Asia

’90 IXI (64 Kbps) ’69 ARPANET (DoD) ’97 NACSIS (150 Mbps)

’92 Europa NET ’86 NSFNet (56 Kbps)

(64 Kbps)
’88 NSFNet (1.54 Mbps) 98 2003 APAN/IMNET
’97 TEN-34 (34 Mbps) (1 Gbps)
’91 NSFNet (44 Mbps)
‘98/99 TEN-155
(155 Mbps) ’95 vBNS (155 Mbps)

’99 Abilene (2.4 Gbps)

*Flows in Kilobits per second (Kbps), Megabits per second (Mbps) et Gigabits per
second (Gbps).
Source: OECD.

Problems specific to the social sciences

The social sciences represent an important segment of science systems, with

between 10% and 40% of R&D personnel, depending on the country (Figure 5).
They also attract a considerable share of students, a share which exceeds
significantly their share of national R&D expenditures. However, the social
sciences and the humanities are faced with a number of problems (OECD,

Compared with the natural sciences, the social sciences and humanities suffer
from a problem of image and status. Social science researchers are partly
responsible: occasional laxity of approach, insufficient quality control or
infighting between “schools of thought” do not help to improve the image of the
social sciences. But this does not explain everything. The social sciences are the
“victim” of something more fundamental: the difficulty of self-analysis inherent
in any society. Self-analysis naturally encounters great resistance; furthermore,
it is inevitably biased by ideology and subjectivity.

Institutional rigidities are particularly acute in the social sciences and take
different forms: the questionable but persistent stratification of disciplines,
difficulty of full-fledged integration, proliferation of hybrid disciplines that
serve as niches which isolate and protect the various actors. Governments take
various approaches to remedying this state of affairs: they develop
interdisciplinary programmes or centres, change criteria for awarding chairs and

professorships, etc. However, in most countries, these measures have as yet had
little impact on structures. Collaboration between the social sciences and natural
sciences is also being encouraged where the value is clear, as in matters relating
to the environment, urban life or education. Here as well, much remains to be

Figure 5. Share of social sciences and humanities in domestic expenditure on

R&D and R&D personnel









Ireland 1994
Czech Rep.1996

Japan 1995
Iceland 1992
Hungary 1995
Canada 1993

Mexico 1995

Portugal 1995
Poland 1996
Norway 1995
Germany 1993
Austria 1993

Denmark 1993

Sweden 1995
Spain 1995

Source: OECD, based on the S&T databases.

The conditions of social science research could well be transformed by

advances in information technology that make it possible to collect, process,
store and disseminate huge quantities of data (OECD, 1999a; 1999b). It is
becoming possible, given the necessary technical and legal measures, to
interconnect countries’ existing databases in many fields and undertake
large-scale integrated and comparative analyses. It is becoming possible to
launch vast surveys on all kinds of subjects via the Internet and to track, in real
time, developments in the perceptions and behaviour of very diverse
populations. It is becoming possible to set up networks of virtual laboratories
that bring together teams of social science researchers from all over the world.
Besides their impact on the conditions for observing and analysing human and

societal realities, these developments should also be useful in encouraging the
breakdown of barriers between disciplines and the diffusion of information to
decision makers. This could be the focus of extensive national and international

Preventing the widening of the gap between science and the general public

If science policy is to be conducted effectively, it needs the backing of public

opinion for raising funds, choosing priorities, etc. Moreover, for a satisfactory
renewal and enlargement of the population of researchers, science needs to have
an attractive image throughout society as a whole. Yet, as surveys show (see the
example of the United States, Figure 6), public understanding and perception of
science have not improved over the last decade, despite extensive media
developments (television especially) and efforts made in science museography
and other areas. Significant progress could be made by drawing on display and
outreach techniques that have proved successful the world over (OECD, 1997b;
1997e). The development of international special-interest TV channels devoted
to science and technology, combining the best of individual countries’
achievements, could also be envisaged.

Stimulating the interest of young people in scientific studies calls for measures
at the levels of primary and secondary education (OECD, 1996). The experience
of the few countries which have tackled this issue successfully indicates that the
way in which scientific subjects, including mathematics, are taught needs to be
improved. Courses need to be grounded in everyday life, and selection and
grading methods should not unduly or prematurely discourage young people.
This can produce significant positive results, even in very underprivileged
environments (OECD, 1997b).

Finally, society’s perception of science in the years ahead will depend crucially
on how the ethical issues posed by the evolution and uses of science are
addressed. These will particularly affect the progress of biotechnology and
genetics (human cloning, gene therapy, etc.), which raise legitimate concerns
(see the comparison with other technologies, Table 2). These are areas in which
countries diverge greatly because of their cultural traditions. Given the ethical
problems raised as well as inequalities in the conditions under which research
can be performed, international agreements on certain limits seem desirable.

Figure 6. Public understanding of various questions in the United States
Percentages considering themselves very well informed


E n v iro n m e n ta l q u e s tio n s
40 E n e rg y E c o n o m ic p o lic y
(in c lu d in g n u c le a r)
M e d ic a l d is c o v e rie s
30 F o re ig n p o lic y



N e w te c h n o lo g ie s S c ie n tific d is c o v e rie s
S p a c e e x p lo ra tio n
1979 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 1995

Source: National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering Indicators – 1996.

Furthermore, scientists are increasingly required to speak out on sensitive and

politically delicate issues in many areas (mad cow disease, climate change,
contaminated blood, nuclear waste). Their opinions should be sought in a timely
way by governments, so that informed decisions may be taken in the best
interests of democracy.

Table 2. Perception of the effects of new technologies on the quality of life

Responses from 15 EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland

Solar Infor- Biotech- Telecom- New Space

matics nologies muni- materials
Improve 74 76 44 80 65 49
No effect 14 8 9 10 12 28
Worsen 4 9 22 4 6 8
Don’t 8 7 25 6 17 15
Source: D. Boy (1999), “Les biotechnologies et l’opinion publique européenne”,
Futuribles, No. 236, Paris.

Conclusion: some policy issues

Science systems are undergoing changes which, although gradual, are

nonetheless profound. The science systems that are emerging at the eve of the
21st century are quite different from those of even a decade ago. The latter still
fit quite comfortably into the frameworks set in place after World War II. They
were then just beginning to be affected by transformations resulting from the
new geopolitical situation, by the reduction of government budgets, by the
globalisation of industry, and by the new forms of interaction between science
and innovation. They were not yet faced with the problems of ill-adapted
structures and the need to renew their personnel. Neither the possibilities
offered by ICTs nor the ethical questions raised by advances in genetics had yet
been recognised.

The preceding observations suggest a number of general orientations for

government policy as it accompanies these changes (Annex Table C1 provides
some example of best practices drawn from the experience of Member

♦ Governments should integrate science policy into appropriate co-

ordination mechanisms at the highest executive level, so that it is a part of
an overall understanding of and strategy for developing the country’s
innovation capacity.

♦ Adequate support must be found for scientific research, especially for

university research which largely depends on public funding. Resources
should be sufficient to ensure the continuation of long-term research
efforts and related training activities. Institutional funding has decreased
in many countries, while the expansion of university education has led to
increased teaching commitments. A good balance has to be maintained
between core and contract-based resources to ensure productive synergy
between the scientific community and its environment, and between
mission-oriented and curiosity-driven research.

♦ Research structures and regulatory frameworks require constant

adjustment to facilitate adaptation and stimulate new efforts. As financing
conditions change, universities need to be able to act flexibly in order to
sound out “research markets” and sell their skills. While the development
of “university entrepreneurship” is desirable in many respects, it must not
be allowed to undermine the foundations of long-term research. It is also
necessary to remove obstacles to researcher mobility and, in particular, to
reduce the deterrents to entrepreneurship by researchers (e.g. pension
rights, conditions of secondment and reinstatement, stake in equity).

Evaluation of researchers, programmes and institutions should be
strengthened, preserving the current criteria of scientific excellence, but
also taking technological relevance into account.

♦ Adjustments are needed in scientific and technical education in order to

maintain an adequate balance of demand for and supply of qualified
personnel and to remedy the mismatches in certain disciplines in many
countries. Some countries should also react vigorously to looming
shortages in researchers as the large numbers recruited two to three
decades ago near retirement. It is important to act not only at the level of
higher education but also at the level of primary and secondary schools so
as to encourage young people to opt for scientific studies and careers. This
implies that the conditions of science teaching should be re-examined.

♦ The revolutionary changes in information technologies seem to be

strongly influencing research conditions, opening up huge possibilities for
communication among researchers around the globe, altering conditions
for publishing research results, and making possible the development of
new tools (digital libraries, virtual laboratories). It is important to adjust
regulatory frameworks and ground rules so that these new opportunities
may benefit the greatest possible number. It is also necessary to take care
that the gaps between different regions of the OECD area in the
development of new technology facilities do not widen.

♦ Science/society interfaces need to be strengthened. It is important to

improve scientific and technical culture and, in order to do so, to make
better use of advances in the media and museography. The ethical issues
arising from recent advances in science, notably in medicine and biology,
require timely responses and mobilisation of all the actors in appropriate

♦ Greater use should be made of the social sciences to tackle various

societal problems. They need to break down barriers and become better
integrated in both research and training. Use should be made of the
advances in information technology that will transform the ways in which
databases will be developed and exploited, thereby significantly changing
social science research.

♦ Governments must be prepared to deal with the globalisation processes

that increasingly affect the scientific enterprise. The effects of
multinational corporate strategies on national scientific potential need to
be precisely tracked. The process of integration in the major OECD

regions (Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific) is also leading to
readjustments of research funding conditions and linkages between the
national and supranational levels. Lastly, new forms of international
co-operation need to be deployed boldly and imaginatively to meet the
challenges presented by world-scale problems, such as climate change.


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between US Technology and Public Science”, Research Policy 26,
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OECD (1997a), Oslo Manual. Proposed Guidelines for Collecting and
Interpreting Technological Innovation Data, 2nd edn., OECD/Eurostat,
OECD (1997b), Science and Technology in the Public Eye, OECD, Paris.
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OCDE/GD(97)194, Paris.
OECD (1997d), “Bibliometric Indicators and Analysis of Research Systems:
Methods and Examples”, STI Working Papers 1997/1, OECD, Paris.
OECD (1997e), Promoting Public Understanding of Science and Technology,
OECD, Paris.
OECD(1998a), “Managing the Science Base”, in Technology, Productivity and
Job Creation – Best Policy Practices, Chap. 6, OECD, Paris.

OECD (1998b), University Research in Transition, OECD, Paris.
OECD (1998c), “University Research in Transition: Country Notes”,
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OECD (1999b), The Social Sciences at a Turning Point?, OECD, Paris.


Bibliometric data

Table A1. Scientific effort and performance in OECD countries, 1995

Table A2. Patterns of international collaboration in science and engineering

research, 1991-95

Tableau A3. Specialisation patterns in science by selected scientific fields,


Financing of university research

Table B1. Share of government-financed domestic R&D expenditure performed

in the higher education sector

Table B2. Share of direct and institutional financing in university research

Table B3. HERD per student (full-time, ISIC levels 6 and 7)

Management of the science base

Table C1. Management of the science base

Table A1. Scientific effort and performance in OECD countries, 1995¹

GDP per Gross domestic

Scientific and
inhabitant as a expendi- Researchers per
technical articles
% of the OECD ture on R&D as 10 000 workers
per unit of GDP2
average, 1996 a % of GDP
United States 138 2.6 74 20
Norway 129 1.7 73 21
Switzerland 123 2.7 46 37
Iceland 117 1.5 72 15
Japan 116 2.8 83 23
Denmark 112 1.8 57 31
Belgium 110 1.6 53 25
Canada 109 1.7 53 20
Austria 109 1.5 34 18
France 106 2.3 60 24
Australia 105 1.6 64 21
Germany 105 2.3 58 31
Netherlands 103 2.0 46 20
Italy 100 1.1 33 13
United Kingdom 98 2.1 52 41
Sweden 97 3.6 68 29
Ireland 96 1.4 59 35
Finland 94 2.3 61 16
New Zealand 87 1.0 35 29
Spain 77 0.9 30 16
Korea 69 2.7 48 5
Portugal 65 0.6 24 7
Greece 63 0.5 20 16
Czech Republic 46 1.2 23 15
Mexico 39 0.3 6 20
Poland 34 0.7 29 2
Hungary 34 0.8 26 17
Turkey 31 0.4 7 4
1. Or latest available year.
2. Number of articles per billion USD – see National Science Foundation, Science and
Engineering Indicators – 1998.
Source: OECD calculations on the basis of the MSTI database; CHI Research, National
Science Foundation, 1998; and OECD, Science, Technology and Industry Outlook,

Table A2. Patterns of international collaboration in science and engineering
research, 1991-95
Number of scientific articles and shares in percentage

Share of
Share of Degree of
Total International total
Source multi- Share of
(thou- co-authored interna- Internation-
Country/region authored all articles
sands) (%) tional co- alisation¹
United States 773.7 56 16 31.7 21.3 0.67
United Kingdom 186.2 52 26 7.6 8.1 1.06
Germany 174.6 50 30 7.2 8.9 1.24
France 132.2 61 32 5.4 7.1 1.31
Italy 76.9 70 33 3.2 4.3 1.35
Other southern
Europe 74.0 56 32 3.0 4.0 1.33
Nordic countries 96.3 65 36 3.9 5.8 1.47
Other western
Europe 136.2 61 38 5.6 8.8 1.57
Japan 200.6 50 13 8.2 4.3 0.52
Canada 103.9 57 28 4.3 5.0 1.17
Former USSR 134.6 29 17 5.5 3.9 0.70
Eastern Europe 58.1 56 41 2.4 4.0 1.68
Israel 25.6 66 37 1.1 1.6 1.51
Near East/North
Africa 17.6 55 37 0.7 1.1 1.52
Other Africa 21.3 60 39 0.9 1.4 1.60
Australia, New
Zealand 62.6 51 25 2.6 2.6 1.03
India 43.8 33 13 1.8 1.0 0.55
Central America 9.6 65 46 0.4 0.7 1.89
South America 32.7 62 40 2.2
China 30.8 52 29 1.3 1.5 1.18
Asia NEIs² 37.5 53 24 1.5 1.5 1.00
Other Asia-
Pacific 9.2 70 57 0.4 0.9 2.32
Total 2 438.0 54 24 100.0 100.0 1.00

1. Share of internationally co-authored articles divided by the country’s share of total articles.
2. NIE = newly industrialised economies.
Source: National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering Indicators – 1998, OECD

Table A3. Specialisation patterns in science by selected scientific fields, 1991-95


Biology 104 89 85 68 54 106 158
Biomedical research 108 89 73 102 93 100 102
Chemistry 65 187 141 137 149 93 92
Clinical medicine 105 68 92 95 101 107 80
Earth and space sciences 121 35 71 92 99 104 136
Engineering and technology 111 133 106 65 65 99 106
Mathematics 106 63 156 111 63 73 129
Physics 89 135 122 130 133 85 84
Biology 97 82 76 67 59 101 172
Biomedical research 113 89 76 129 83 100 98
Chemistry 73 137 148 116 111 88 84
Clinical medicine 106 87 87 80 106 115 88
Earth and space sciences 121 45 72 88 86 104 158
Engineering and technology 108 115 92 80 89 96 125
Mathematics 109 37 101 182 112 77 114
Physics 83 140 143 118 128 79 70
Differences between
Biology -6.1 -6.7 -9.3 -1.2 5.0 -5.4 14.3
Biomedical research 4.6 -0.6 3.3 27.5 -10.2 0.0 -3.9
Chemistry 7.8 -50.3 6.7 -20.7 -30.8 -5.4 -7.5
Clinical medicine 0.9 19.0 -4.8 -15.1 4.9 8.2 7.5
Earth and space sciences -0.1 10.5 1.0 -4.3 -12.5 0.0 21.9
Engineering and technology -3.0 -17.3 -14.7 15.3 24.3 -3.7 18.3
Mathematics 3.4 -26.0 -55.4 71.2 49.5 4.8 -15.5
Physics -6.6 4.7 20.0 -11.8 -4.9 -6.2 -13.9
Correlation between years USA JAP GER FRA ITA UK CAN
0.954 0.898 0.734 0.594 0.637 0.913 0.929

Table A3. Specialisation patterns in science by selected scientific fields, 1991-95


Biology 206 58 75 61 95 121 59 46
research 83 54 96 93 121 101 115 92
Chemistry 90 106 55 61 110 72 68 108
Clinical medicine 91 142 153 154 92 138 153 116
Earth and space
sciences 144 50 61 59 80 98 45 65
Engineering and
technology 67 73 35 63 73 43 61 88
Mathematics 87 131 82 93 84 61 49 53
Physics 69 100 85 70 121 47 56 139
Biology 231 65 127 111 119 158 99 65
research 83 70 98 79 100 78 97 101
Chemistry 74 100 65 67 77 73 72 104
Clinical medicine 102 135 128 144 120 129 133 106
Earth and space
sciences 122 66 106 87 92 160 74 71
Engineering and
technology 90 66 46 78 70 69 68 60
Mathematics 79 101 90 51 77 86 66 74
Physics 66 102 77 68 82 46 82 133
Biology 25.6 6.3 51.6 49.8 24.5 37.3 40.3 19.4
research -0.8 15.8 2.4 -13.9 -20.4 -22.9 -17.8 8.5
Chemistry -16.4 -5.9 9.8 5.5 -33.6 1.6 4.4 -4.2
Clinical medicine 10.5 -6.2 -25.2 -9.8 28.0 -8.8 -20.0 -10.7
Earth and space
sciences -21.7 16.2 45.3 28.0 12.4 62.1 28.5 6.1
Engineering and
technology 23.6 -6.9 11.0 14.8 -3.1 25.7 6.2 -28.1
Mathematics -8.1 -30.7 7.8 -41.8 -7.3 25.5 16.4 21.1
Physics -2.4 2.2 -7.9 -1.4 -38.9 -0.8 25.9 -5.8
0.948 0.929 0.700 0.598 0.123 0.768 0.863 0.866
Note: For a given country (region) and field, this indicator is defined as the share of publications in that
scientific field in relation to the total number of publications by that country (region), divided by the share of
that field in total world publications X 100.
Values greater than 100 indicate relative specialisation.
Source: National Science Foundation, Science & Engineering Indicators – 1998,
OECD calculations.

Table B1. Share of government-financed domestic R&D expenditure
performed in the higher education sector

1986 1991 1996

State Firms State Firms State Firms
Germany 93.7 6.3 93.0 7.0 91.0 8.0
Australia 91.6 2.1 91.55 2.2 90.3 5.2
Austria 97.61 1.7 97.44 1.8 97.27 2.07
Belgium 86.1 8.6 76.2 15.4 72.98 10.68
Canada 79.4 4.1 71.7 9.1 65.8 11.8
Korea 44.0 50.5
Denmark 92.7 1.1 89.6 1.6 87.7 1.9
Spain 98.3 1.5 86.8 10.0 73.6 7.5
United States 87.1 4.2 74.1 5.3 73.6 5.7
Finland 89.62 3.8 91.2 3.6 89.08 5.78
France 96.2 2.0 93.1 4.2 90.0 3.2
Greece 97.5 4.8 80.0 6.1 72.48 5.68
Hungary 83.5 14.4 85.0 2.9
Ireland 75.7 6.8 66.0 8.6 62.08 6.98
Iceland 75.3 0.6 90.8 4.9 89.1 4.3
Italy 98.4 1.1 94.4 4.0 93.3 4.7
Japan 52.7 1.7 49.5 2.4 49.1 2.4
Mexico 76.77 3.4 78.48 1.48
2 8
Norway 91.0 4.5 90.4 4.7 89.4 5.38
N. Zealand 63.8 4.6 54.68 9.48
Netherlands 95.6 1.2 96.3 1.2 86.5 3.8
Poland 80.9 11.3
Portugal 95.9 0.9 94.65 0.7 87.78 0.88
Czech Rep. 65.7 0.4
United Kingdom 80.3 5.7 72.0 7.8 66.5 6.7
Sweden 88.12 5.9 84.3 5.2 83.68 4.68
Switzerland 96.7 3.3 91.66 1.8 88.5 6.2
Turkey 87.8 10.4 74.7 18.0
Note: The sum of the percentages for each year and each country generally does not attain 100%.
The differences corresponds to funds from non-profit instutitions and universities’ own funds.
1. 1985
2. 1987
3. 1988
4. 1989
5. 1990
6. 1992
7. 1993
8. 1995
Source: OECD, based on the S&T databases.

Table B2. Share of direct and institutional financing in university research

1986 1991 1996

Australia 20.7 27.6
4 6
Austria 9.4 11.3 14.9
Belgium 51.1 35.0 52.1
Canada 52.4 59.6 61.0
Czech Republic 100.0
Denmark 15.4 23.8 29.0
3 7
Finland 39.8 30.6 36.1
France 48.6 50.6 50.3
3 7
Germany 23.6 23.2 22.3
Greece 6.5 8.2 18.3
Iceland 39.8 94.3 89.9
Ireland 13.9 37.3 32.3
Japan 23.2 19.2 14.7
6 7
Mexico 16.5 36.5
Netherlands 7.8 4.9 7.7
New Zealand 23.6 35.7
3 7
Norway 21.0 22.1 21.8
Poland 100.0
Spain 26.4 31.3 17.5
3 7
Sweden 38.0 35.4 32.0
Switzerland 21.8 18.8 17.2
Turkey 31.4 63.6
United Kingdom 30.4 34.7 44.6
United States 76.2 100.0 100.0
1. From 1990, general university funds, which were included in the sub-total of
government financing of higher education, are included in own funds of the higher
education sector.
2. 1985; 3. 1987; 4. 1989; 5. 1992; 6 1993; 7. 1995.
Source: OECD, based on the S&T databases.

Table B3. HERD per student (full-time, ISCED levels 6 and 7)
Thousands of constant USD (1990 prices and PPP)

1986 1991 1995

Australia 4.65 3.02 3.85
2 4 7
Austria 2.88 2.73 3.40
Belgium 3.26 4.75 4.60
Canada 2.83 3.13 3.00
Czech Republic 0.20 0.69
Denmark 2.63 2.40 2.89
Finland 2.34 2.63 2.22
France 2.73 2.74 2.41
Germany 2.79 3.53 3.07
Greece 0.85
Hungary 4.12 1.37
Iceland 3.16
Ireland 1.61 2.01 2.24
Italy 1.59 1.86 1.47
Japan 5.46 5.76 6.02
Korea 0.83
Mexico 0.51 0.56
Netherlands 6.18 8.45 3.94
New Zealand 2.20 2.32 2.09
Norway 5.79 4.15 3.68
Poland 0.61
Portugal 0.84 1.14
Spain 0.47 0.75 0.89
Sweden 12.96 11.63 6.57
6 8
Switzerland 6.52 11.04 10.61
Turkey 1.47 0.92
United Kingdom 5.39 4.90 3.82
United States 3.60 3.69 3.97
1. HERD was deflated using implicit GDP deflators (rate of price increase/decrease) and
converted into USD using 1990 PPPs.
2. 1985. 3. 1987. 4. 1989. 5. 1990. 6. 1992. 7. 1993. 8. 1994.
ISCED: International standard classification of education. PPP: purchasing power
Level 6: Programmes leading to a first university degree or equivalent.
Level 7: Programmes leading to a postgraduate university degree or equivalent.
Source: OECD, based on the S&T databases.

Table C1. Management of the science base

Policy areas General policy principles Cases of best policy

General organisation
Science policy and Incorporate science policy into Finland with the Science
government structures central government decision making and Technology Policy
and overall economic development Council, Japan with the
strategy by appropriate mechanisms. S&T Policy Council and
the long-term plans,
Canada with the co-
ordinating role played by
Industry Canada
(Federal S&T and
Industry Ministry).
Structure of the R&D Establish and maintain an Germany, the
effort (performing appropriate structure in the R&D Netherlands,
organisations) effort, with an adequate balance Switzerland, the United
between industry, government and Kingdom, the United
university. States.

Funding of the science base

Overall funding Maintain or increase overall Denmark, Finland, Iceland,
government support to university Japan.
and public research with a long-
term view.

Funding of university Maintain and establish an Policies pursued at the

research adequate ratio between sure and national level by the
precarious resources for university Netherlands and Finland;
research at the overall level at the institution level, see
(around 70/30%); at the institution examples provided by well-
level, maintain a minimum performing universities in a
percentage of 50/50 between core number of countries,
and contract-based funding on including Germany,
average. Switzerland, the United
Kingdom, the United
Funding of government Maintain a minimal level of Countries maintaining a
laboratories government research of collective strong network of
interest and establish funding government laboratories
mechanisms accordingly. performing strategic
research of industrial
interest include Finland,
Japan, Korea, Norway;
core funding provided by
government can exceed
50% of laboratories’

Funding of the science base (continued)
Management of funding Separate criteria for funding of Most countries now follow
schemes basic research (excellence) and such principles.
applied/technical research

Financing of basic Maintain a minimal level of effort To date, none of the OECD
research in industry by appropriate subsidies and tax countries seem to have
incentives for in-house research. come up with incentives to
prevent the drying up of in-
house basic research in
Science/industry interfaces
General framework A climate favourable to Australia, Canada,
academic/industry collaboration isIreland, the United
characterised by: the absence of Kingdom and the United
regulatory obstacles (regarding States present
financial earnings, pension schemes,
favourable climates with
etc.); flexibility regarding teaching
few obstacles. Climates
obligations; and autonomy in the favourable to institutional
development of new faculty experiments can be
structures (interdisciplinary). found in Nordic
countries. Switzerland
and Germany used to
present excellent
interactions in specific
sectors, but these need
to be reinvigorated.
Ad hoc centres Centres of excellence (for basic UK and Canadian
research) and co-operative R&D schemes for centres of
centres (for more applied research), excellence, and
if properly funded and focused, have Australian and US
both proved to be efficient schemes for co-operative
mechanisms for joint research work. R&D. See also examples
provided by Finland,
Japan, Korea and
Research programmes If well-designed and generously Significant programmes
funded (notably at the level of of the first type can be
individual projects), such found in the United
programmes can have a critical Kingdom (e.g. LINK) and
impact on S&T field concerned; if in Japan (on specific
moderately funded, they can be technologies). There are
instrumental in developing many examples of the
science/industry networks. second type of
programmes (see the
European Union for
complex, multi-country

Science/industry interfaces (continued)
Placement of scientists Placements can be promoted on The UK TCS and the
in industry an ad hoc basis with specific Canadian Industrial
linkages with a given institution or Research Fellowship for
professor, or through more general the first type of
incentives. programmes; and the
French, Dutch and German
incentives (paying part of
the cost of employment of
researchers by SMEs) for
the second type of
Source: OECD (1998a).