Advancing Leadership in Science & Technology

The National Science Board (NSB) has just released the biennial Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI) report to the President and to the Congress. The report is prepared by the NSF National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics under the guidance of the NSB. It contains a wealth of information about important trends, bearing in mind that the data are generally two to three years old and therefore do not necessarily reflect the current status. For example, SEI 2016 points out that, based on 2013 data, the U.S. remains the largest R&D performer and accounted for 27% of total worldwide R&D. China was second in 2013, but by now might be first.

NSB has selected 40 S&E indicators for inclusion. These have been grouped into seven themes and thus offer a snapshot of U.S. science and engineering in the context of global trends affecting them. These themes are: global R&D; U.S. R&D; U.S. and global STEM education; U.S. S&E workforce trends and composition; knowledge, intellectual property, and economic output; data on research universities in the U.S.; and public attitudes and understanding of science and technology.

There is much useful information to be gleaned from this accessible, searchable online resource. The complete report is available on the web at www.nsf.gov/statistics/indicators. An interactive version of the digest is available online at www.nsf.gov/statistics/digest.

The Board’s companion pieces are policy statements to SEI 2016. NSB focuses on trends that it believes raise important policy concerns that should be brought to the attention of the President, Congress, and the public. The State Indicators online data tool allows interactive exploration of U.S. state-specific indicators in science and technology education, workforce, finance, and R&D. Users have the ability to choose and explore a single indicator in depth, compare multiple indicators for preselected groups, customize their own graphics, or download data tables.

The complete content of SEI 2016 is downloadable as a PDF, with data tables and source data for figures available in both PDF and spreadsheet (MS Excel) formats. In addition, figures are also available in a presentation-style format.

Based on my past experience, there is much to be learned from this report, even if the data are a few years old. And many useful charts that can be downloaded for presentations.

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