Science Policy

National science policy determines the research directions and priorities of various funding agencies. Below we provide links to items in three important categories of information.

Explore the nuts and bolts of science policy.

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Recent Reports Related to Data Science Policy

Report of NSF Workshop on AI-Enabled Scientific Revolution (2023)

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A two-day workshop on the AI-enabled scientific revolution was held during March 8-9, 2023, at NSF headquarters in Alexandra, Virginia. It brought together leading experts from AI and various scientific and engineering fields (including computational biology, health sciences, neuroscience, chemical and materials science, ecology, climate science, hydrology, limnology, and physics) to identify key challenges and steps that can be taken to enable the next AI revolution in the Sciences. The workshop led the discussion on a new frontier in AI, where novel AI frameworks will drive scientific inquiry, suggest novel experiments, elucidate new theories, and thus revolutionize the traditional discovery process across multiple scientific disciplines. It identified limitations of the current state-of-the-art in AI for existing grand scientific challenge problems and discussed AI advances that are needed to catalyze synergistic research across scientific communities and how these advances can be incorporated into the practice of scientific discovery. The workshop provided an opportunity to have an open conversation with a reflection on the past, present, and future of AI-enabled scientific discoveries. Through the interactions among the participants, the workshop provided an opportunity to align future objectives and new strategies for AI research.


National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan, 2023 Update

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most powerful technologies of our time. In order to seize the opportunities that AI presents, the Nation must first work to manage its risks. The federal government plays a critical role in this effort, including through smart investments in research and development (R&D) that promote responsible innovation and advance solutions to the challenges that other sectors will not address on their own. This includes R&D to leverage AI to tackle large societal challenges and develop new approaches to mitigate AI risks. The federal government must place people and communities at the center by investing in responsible R&D that serves the public good, protects people’s rights and safety, and advances democratic values. This update to the National AI R&D Strategic Plan is a roadmap for driving progress toward that goal.


Fellow Programs in Science Policy

Leadership in Science Policy Institute

Read about LiSPI.

The Computing Community Consortium (CCC), part of the Computing Research Association (CRA), will be holding the CCC Leadership in Science Policy Institute (LiSPI) in Washington, D.C., on November 16-17, 2023. It is intended to educate computing researchers on how science policy in the U.S. is formulated and how our government works. The Institute includes a two-day workshop in Washington, D.C., and features presentations and discussions with science policy experts, current and former Hill staff, and relevant agency and Administration personnel about mechanics of the legislative process, interacting with agencies, advisory committees, and the federal case for computing.

LiSPI participants are expected to have the experience and flexibility in current positions to engage with government. Participants should be adept at communicating. They must be nominated by their chair or department head and must have demonstrated an interest in science policy, particularly as it relates to computer science (and closely allied fields).

Specifically, the nomination process is as follows:

  • A chair or department head proposes a LiSPI candidate by providing the name and institution of the nominee, along with a letter of recommendation.
  • The candidate will then be contacted by the CCC and asked to submit a CV, a short essay detailing their interests in science policy, and an indication of whether they would require financial aid to attend.


AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships

Read about the AAAS STPF Program.

Every year AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships (STPF) provide opportunities to outstanding scientists and engineers to learn first-hand about policymaking while contributing their knowledge and analytical skills to the federal policymaking process. Fellows serve yearlong assignments in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government in Washington. Each year, the program adds to a growing corps approximately 4,000 strong of policy-savvy leaders working across academia, government, nonprofits and industry to serve the nation and the world.

Applications open: June 1
Application deadline: November 30
Notification of status/interview: first week of February
Semi-finalist interviews: late February/early March
Finalist interview week: April 15-19, 2024
Fellowship placement offers extended: May
Fellowship start day: September 1
Fellowship end date: August 31


Jefferson Science Fellowship Program

Read about the JSF Program.

The JSFs are administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and supported by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). They are open to tenured, or similarly ranked, faculty from U.S. institutions of higher learning who are U.S. citizens. After successfully obtaining a security clearance, selected Fellows spend one year on assignment at the U.S. Department of State or USAID serving as advisers on issues of foreign policy and international development. Assignments are tailored to the needs of the hosting office, while taking into account the Fellows’ interests and areas of expertise. Following the fellowship year, Fellows return to their academic career bringing their expertise with them back to their institution and remain available to the U.S. government as experienced consultants for short-term projects.

2023 Dates:

  • Online applications open: August 1
  • Application and MOU deadline: October 17, 5 PM ET


Understanding Terms and Concepts

Grant Terminology

Grant Terminology
Here you will find a glossary with definitions of terminology used by US government funding agencies.


The Heilmeier Catechism

Articles and Books

The Heilmeier Catechism
A brief article from DARPA listing the set of questions known as the Heilmeier Catechism and developed by George Heilmeier, a former DARPA director, to help Agency officials think through and evaluate proposed research programs.


Grant Writing Workshop: Introduction to the Heilmeier Catechism
19-minute video from The Ohio State Libraries providing an introduction to the Heilmeier Catechism and how to use it to write more compelling proposals.

Framing and Evaluating Technical Innovation
46-minute video of a presentation on the Heilmeier Catechism by Duncan Macfarlane, The Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, Southern Methodist University.


Pasteur's Quadrant: Basic, Applied, and Use-Inspired Research

Articles and Books

Pasteur's quadrant
This short Wikipedia article explains the different perspectives of scientific research. Pasteur's quadrant refers to scientific research that seek "fundamental understanding of scientific problems, while also having immediate use for society."

Pasteur's Quadrant: Basic Science and Technological Innovation by Donald E. Stokes,1997.
"Stokes builds a convincing case that by recognizing the importance of use-inspired basic research we can frame a new compact between science and government. His conclusions have major implications for both the scientific and policy communities and will be of great interest to those in the broader public who are troubled by the current role of basic science in American democracy."

RIP: The Basic/Applied Research Dichotomy by Venkatesh Narayanamurti, Tolu Odumosu, Lee Vinsel, Issues in Science and Technology 29, no. 2 (Winter 2013).
"U.S. science policy since World War II has in large measure been driven by Vannevar Bush’s famous paper Science—The Endless Frontier. Bush’s separation of research into “basic” and “applied” domains has been enshrined in much of U.S. science and technology policy over the past seven decades, and this false dichotomy has become a barrier to the development of a coherent national innovation policy. Much of the debate centers on the appropriate federal role in innovation. Bush argued successfully that funding basic research was a necessary role for government, with the implication that applied research should be left to the auspices of markets. However, the original distinction does not reflect what actually happens in research, and its narrow focus on the stated goals of an individual research project prevents us from taking a more productive holistic view of the research enterprise."

At the nexus of science, engineering, and medicine: Pasteur's quadrant reconsidered by Roderic I Pettigrew and John P Cooke, PNAS Nexus, Volume 1, Issue 3, July 2022.


Pasteur's Quadrant
3-minute video from MIN-Corps (Minnesota Innovation Corps) on Pasteur's quadrant. 

How to make sure your research is useful and scientific
6-minute video by Johannes Cronje. A brief description of Pasteur's quadrant, based on the work of Donald Stokes and Tom Reeves.

Applying Pasteur's Quadrant to Innovation and Technology (IMCIC 2015)
40-minute video by Dr. Randy K. Avent, Florida Polytechnic University. Presentation at the General Joint Session at IMCIC 2025.

Living in Pasteur's Quadrant:Navigating the Uncharted Waters Between Basic Applied Research 
45-minute video by Roberta M. Golinkoff and Kathryn Ann Hirsh-Pasek. At the 2015 APS (Association for Psychological Science) Annual Convention, APS James McKeen Cattell Fellows, Roberta M. Golinkoff and Kathryn Ann Hirsh-Pasek discussed navigating the uncharted waters between basic and applied research.


Technology Readiness Levels

Articles and Books

Technology readiness level
This short Wikipedia article explains the concept of technology readiness levels (TRLs): "Technology readiness levels (TRLs) are a method for estimating the maturity of technologies during the acquisition phase of a program. TRLs enable consistent and uniform discussions of technical maturity across different types of technology."


Technology Readiness Level
7-minute video from the Texas Department of Transportation: "A standardized scale for defining how ready a research project is for real world use. The TRL is used as a shorthand way to define how far along development of the project is now, what the end goal is and defines the threshold of when a project is ready for implementation."

Technology Readiness Level from a Practitioner's Point of View
Lecture by Shawn K Martin, University of Florida MERGE Lab, on TRLs.


Convergence, Transdisciplinary Research, and Interdisciplinary Research: What are they?

Fostering the Culture of Convergence in Research: Proceedings of a Workshop. The National Academies Press, 2019.
A convergence-based approach involves hybrid systems of people, buildings, and instruments, which pose complex structural and managerial challenges. In October 23–24, 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a workshop to explore efforts to promote cultures that support convergence-based approaches to research.  This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop. Available to read free online.

Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science. The National Academies Press, 2015.
Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science synthesizes and integrates the available research to provide guidance on assembling the science team; leadership, education and professional development for science teams and groups. It also examines institutional and organizational structures and policies to support science teams and identifies areas where further research is needed to help science teams and groups achieve their scientific and translational goals. Available to read free online.

Convergence: Facilitating Transdisciplinary Integration of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering, and Beyond. The National Academies Press, 2014.
Convergence of the life sciences with fields including physical, chemical, mathematical, computational, engineering, and social sciences is a key strategy to tackle complex challenges and achieve new and innovative solutions. However, institutions face a lack of guidance on how to establish effective programs, what challenges they are likely to encounter, and what strategies other organizations have used to address the issues that arise. This advice is needed to harness the excitement generated by the concept of convergence and channel it into the policies, structures, and networks that will enable it to realize its goals. Available to read free online.

Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research. The National Academies Press, 2005.
This report identifies steps that researchers, teachers, students, institutions, funding organizations, and disciplinary societies can take to more effectively conduct, facilitate, and evaluate interdisciplinary research programs and projects. Throughout the report key concepts are illustrated with case studies and results of the committee’s surveys of individual researchers and university provosts. Available to read free online.