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While applied research that is geared to specific outcomes may readily lend itself to measurement and evaluation, some scientists question whether such benchmarks also can pertain to basic research—where all of the outcomes and future applications seldom are known in advance—without stunting such general, and often very significant, searches for knowledge.

Now, a new report by a U.S. government panel cautiously but firmly recommends that both types of research can and should be measured, in order to meet the goals of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, or GPRA.