Science policy

What is this about?

Science policy influences the very basics of all science because it determines the funding and goals of the scientific community, through investments both in people and equipment. Science policies are usually created by governmental bodies and/or other stakeholders which have a financial interest in science (1).

Why is this important?

Science policies address areas such as basic research, development of new technologies, and facilitation in bringing technologies to the market. They steer science into areas of importance and interest to society. Policies are determined by sets of values or priorities that policy makers have. In an ideal world. policy makers should address the greatest needs of the community through the application of science policies, however the world of politics is far from an ideal one.

For whom is this important?

PhD Students, Scientists, Ethics committee members, Researchers, Academic staff, Research institutions, Policy makers, Supervisors, Postdocs, Universities, Junior researchers, Senior researchers

What are the best practices?

Four types of scientific polices are described. The first one invests in basic research, hoping that some kind of breakthrough will result in a vast array of new technologies which will then be commercialized and pay back the investments. The second one is focused on technology development, in which engineering is supported more than basic science. The most extreme examples of such science policies are the Manhattan project and the Space projects pursued by the US and the Soviet Union in the second half of the 20th century (2). Utilitarian scientific policy gives social content to these two policies. In the utilitarian policy approach, the aim is to prioritize scientific projects that significantly reduce suffering or improve quality of life for larger numbers of people. In contrast to the utilitarian approach, the monumental approach favors research just for the sake of greater understanding of the universe. In reality, scientific policies are often a mixture of these four types.


1. Douglas HE. Science, policy and the value-free ideal. University of Pittsburg Press, 2009. JSTOR,

2. Goldwhite H. The Manhattan Project. J Fluorine Chem. 1986;33(1):139-132.

Benjamin Benzon contributed to this theme.

Latest contribution was May 29, 2019