The past year has witnessed an intensifying discussion about the process of research funding in the United States, with issues including big science, little science, directed research, undirected research, centers of excellence, individual initiative, the relative merits of all these, and their relation to one another. Closely coupled to this debate is a perception that U.S. research capabilities are eroding in spite of substantive increases in the research budget. This discussion has primarily occurred through the media, individual letters, and anecdotes and only rarely through specialized reports such as the Lederman Report.

The National Academy of Science'National Research Council Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Research (CSTR) and Committee on Solar and Space Physics (CSSP) are jointly undertaking a study of these issues as they affect solar, solar-terrestrial, and space physics research. As part of the study, the CSTR/CSSP is assembling a data base of grant programs and science projects conducted over the past decade by the main funding sources for these communities, allowing a framework within which to view the many sides of the issues.