P. Dobrescu, L. Radu

National University for Political Studies and Public Administration (ROMANIA)
Our paper explores some technical and methodological possibilities for the creation and institutionalization of an online data aggregator covering multiple areas, such as economic development, education and research, and science and technology. Designed to be used in the process of grounding strategic documents and public policies, the online data aggregator will be the first of its kind in the CEE and addresses an important need of the Romanian central administration - to enhance its evidence-based policy making capabilities.

The data aggregator is the main output of a strategic project - “The State of the Nation – the development of an innovative instrument for founding the development of public policies in Romania” - jointly implemented by the National University for Political Studies and Public Administration (Romania) and the Romanian Government. The aggregator will contribute to the popularization of science in the sense that it will provide both specialists and non-specialists with a tool for drafting well-grounded strategies and policies. It will bridge the gap between the tremendous amount of available yet poorly organized statistical data, on the one hand, and the limited technical and individual capabilities for using this "big" data, on the other one.

Our research is part of the methdodological design phase of the "State of the Nation" project and consists in 16 semi-structured in-depth interviews implemeted between September and November 2016. All interviewees are representatives of the Romanian intellectual elites - such as renowed specialists in education, public administration, social capital, or demography.

The interviews supported us in answering two related research questions:
1.What are the most important methodological and design aspects we should consider when developing an online data aggregator for both specialists and non-specialists?
2. What are the main indicators we should look at when measuring the "state of the nation"?

We will present the key findings of these interviews by linking them not only to the overall goal of the State of the Nation project, but also to the wider debate on the role of science and education in development. Our purpose is, thus, to contribute with some first hand empirical insights to the scholarly debate on the new trends in the popularization of science and the use of statistical data in designing public policies.