In Budget Battle, Science Faces New Pressures to Prove It Delivers

Big Science's Fuzzy Math 1

Jay Premack for The Chronicle

Steven Fluharty, senior vice provost for research at the U. of Pennsylvania, told lawmakers that scientists must "try to develop common frames of reference for what matters, and ... it's got to be based on the return of investment."

The showdown over the "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and budget cuts has arrived, and, with it, university-based scientists and their allies are pleading their case for strong and sustained government support.

In some ways, science advocates are in a good position. It's a rare bipartisan issue, with leading Republicans and Democrats routinely proclaiming their broad support for research spending, particularly in medical fields.

And yet, after years of trying, the science