Research ArticleSCIENCE POLICY

What does Congress want from the National Science Foundation? A content analysis of remarks from 1995 to 2018

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Science Advances  14 Aug 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 33, eaaz6300
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz6300


The U.S. Congress writes the legislation that funds the National Science Foundation (NSF). Researchers who seek NSF support may benefit by understanding how Congress views the agency. To this end, we use text analysis to examine every statement in the Congressional Record made by any member of Congress about the NSF over a 22-year period. While we find broad bipartisan support for the NSF, there are notable changes over time. Republicans have become more likely to express concerns about accountability in how the NSF spends its funds. Democrats are more likely to focus on how NSF-funded activities affect education, technology, and students. We use these findings to articulate how researchers and scientific organizations can more effectively conduct transformative science that corresponds to long-term and broadly held Congressional priorities.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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