The science of science (SOS) is a relatively new field which aims to understand, quantify and predict scientific research and resulting outcomes.
FNR believes that science funding, and more generally the activities, processes, and output of research funders, should be put to the same academic rigor that it uses for the research that it funds.
For this reason, the FNR set an example, and invited academic research into its own premises by building the unit of science of science and innovation policy (or, SoS). SoS undertakes research that advances the scientific basis of science and innovation policy. By extending theories from other disciplines into the field of science of science, accompanied by the collection and management of original primary data combined with careful econometric analysis, machine learning and AI, SoS advances academic literature in the discipline and provides a sound evidence-based policy making.
SoS is headed by Professor Cindy Lopes-Bento from the KU Leuven, where, jointly with her team, she ensures full academic independence and rigor for SoS research activities, subject to peer-review prior publication or diffusion of results. In other words, SoS is about advancing our understanding and knowledge of the science system, not about evaluating results of research projects. In times where the very core of science funding is being questioned (see e.g. ChatGPT use shows that the grant-application system is broken, Nature, 2023), it is more important than ever to understand where in the system inefficiencies occur and how we can address them.
For this purpose, SoS turns the tools of science back on itself to ensure a deeper understanding of the science system and the overall research environment, to help develop policies and systems that improve scientists’ ability to succeed, and to improve the prospects of science as a whole.