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Home > Policy > White Paper, Notice, Announcement > White Paper > JAPANESE GOVERNMENT POLICES IN EDUCATION, SCIENCE, SPORTS AND CULTURE 1997 > Scientific Research Chapter 3 Section 3 1

Scientific Research: Opening the Door to the Future
Chapter 3 New Trends in the Promotion of Science
Section 3: Improving Evaluation Systems for Scientific Research
1. Significance and Importance of Research Evaluation

In recent years there has been growing interest in the evaluation of the scientific research conducted in universities and national research institutions. Improving evaluation systems has become more important than ever before because:

(i) Despite Japan's tight fiscal situation, the budget for scientific research has been increasing steadily and expenditures on individual research projects have also risen dramatically, making evaluation important from the standpoint both of the efficient, prioritized allocation and effective utilization of research funds and also of the government's accountability to the taxpayers, who foot the bill;
(ii) The research community has been criticized for being closed and insulated from competition, making it necessary for researchers themselves to do some introspection and to ensure that their activities are transparent so as to avoid misconceptions and to gain public understanding and support for their research activities.

The evaluation of scientific research should not be discussed solely in terms of social factors, however, since it also has important aspects deriving from the characteristics inherent in scientific research itself. First, because scientific research is driven by the free ideas of researchers, it is characterized by extreme variety in objectives, nature, scale, and methods. Second, in many cases, research results can lead to unexpected progress many years in the future. Because of this, the evaluation of scientific research must not be approached from a uniform, short-term perspective based on expectations of immediate gains, but rather from the standpoint of providing stimulation, advice, and encouragement for research activities.

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