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Overview

Introduction


This overview of the National Science Board's Science and Engineering Indicators 2010 brings together some major developments in international and U.S. science and technology (S&T). It is not intended to be comprehensive; the reader will find more extensive data in the body of each chapter. Major findings on particular topics appear in the Highlights sections that precede chapters 1–7.

The indicators included in Science and Engineering Indicators 2010 derive from a variety of national, international, public, and private sources and may not be strictly comparable in a statistical sense. As noted in the text, some data are weak, and the metrics and models relating them to each other and to economic and social outcomes invite further development. Thus, the emphasis is on broad trends; individual data points and findings should be interpreted with care.

The overview focuses on the trend in the United States and many other parts of the world toward the development of more knowledge-intensive economies, in which research, its commercial exploitation, and other intellectual work play a growing role. Industry and government play key roles in these changes.

The overview examines how these S&T patterns and trends affect the position of the United States, using broadly comparable data wherever possible for the United States, the European Union (EU), Japan, China, and selected other Asian economies (the Asia-9: India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam).

The overview sketches an analytical framework for, and a broad outline of, the main S&T themes, which it then examines through the lens of various indicators such as global R&D expenditures and human resources, including researchers. It describes research outputs and their use in the form of article citations and patents. It then turns to the growth and structural shifts in international high-technology markets, trade, and relative trade positions.

The data available as of this writing do not, for the most part, cover the ongoing changes that shook the global economy beginning in 2008. The data therefore cannot accurately portray their consequences for the world's S&T enterprise. Thus, the trends discussed here may already be changing in unexpected ways. Nevertheless, major patterns and trends that have developed over the past decade or more affect, and are shaped by, the range of S&T endeavors, from basic research to production and trade of high-technology goods and knowledge-intensive services. They are the starting points from which to mark any future changes.

 

Science and Engineering Indicators 2010   Arlington, VA (NSB 10-01) | January 2010