Why Scientists Should Talk to Economists
- John M. Antle and
- Robert J. Wagenet
This essay explains how economics plays a key role in enhancing the value of publicly funded agricultural research. Economics provides research institutions with the tools they need to be accountable to society and better able to set research priorities and design research programs that are consistent with public policy objectives while meeting the standards of good science. We first describe a multidisciplinary approach to setting research priorities and assessing research impacts. A systematic framework is required, so that economic data and data from other scientific disciplines can be collected and integrated using common units of measurement. Second, we address research designs needed to meet the standards of good science while also satisfying the standards of accountability and policy relevance. As scientists become involved in the priority setting process, they become aware of the ways that their research can contribute to the mission of publicly funded research. Finally, we address the problems that arise in valuing the economic, environmental, and human health impacts of agricultural production systems for priority setting and impact assessment. As with the priority setting and design stages of research, multidisciplinary collaboration is also a critical element of the valuation stage of impact assessment.
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