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Project 1: Social Science Profile

This project aims to establish a strategy to raise the profile of the social sciences with the political and policy community, the corporate sector and with the European public.

The project will operate across a number of sub-projects. The first of these will look at the perception that the contribution to European economic and social development made by social research is misunderstood and undervalued. The second will consider how best to raise the profile of the social sciences with the political and policy communities and with the corporate sector. The third will concentrate on developing recommendations for engaging with the public through public events such as lectures and debates but would make recommendations for a wider range and vehicles for engaging. The final subproject will develop strategic recommendations which members of the group would draw on to help coordinate a Europe-wide mind-setting programme.

The first subproject will draw together a database of information on the more significant impacts of social research. As a part of this exercise we aim to draw up a list of perhaps 10 or 20 major policy issues on which social research has had a major impact. This exercise is key to providing evidence of the impact of social research and from this initiating a programme to 'educate' our 'target audience'. An example are the UK Economic and Social Research Council publications: ESRC publishes a UK focused text on its website (www.esrc.ac.uk) and lists 10 of the key contributions of social science. The outputs envisaged for this work package should lead to similar but broader outputs which would be published in both web form or hard-copy publications.

Our target audience for the outputs of this work package is those groups which have responsibility for defining and running research programmes. The target audience can be further divided into two sub-groups. The first group should be EU level politicians and EC officials with a remit which covers the EC Framework Research Programmes. As many members of RISE will be engaged periodically in similar discussions over national funding of social science, there are a number of aspects of the work undertaken by the RISE members which can be recycled for use in national discussions. The second audience is therefore national politicians and officials.

The first task under this work package will be to compile information on influential social and humanities research. We will organise surveys of academic staff through the partner organisations working in the social science disciplines to highlight the research which has had the greatest impact on policy and the wider European society. We will also record the research which has had the greatest impact on the development of particular disciplines. A small working party comprised of a small number of academic researchers will compile the information into useable formats - web publication, hard copy 'briefing'. A well designed and content rich website will be set up to become a major source of social science research information.

A second phase could look at compiling information, available through various media watch services, of the major news stories over recent years. From this it ought to be possible to select those which have been underpinned by a significant component related to social research. This exercise ought to provide us with information on the more contemporary impact of social research. This will be supported by a small working group of researchers or perhaps staff of the research management or press offices at member institutions.

The timeframe for this would be to establish a useable database by mid 2009. However, after the initial database is established we envisage that the work of recording information would be ongoing.

The project is coordinated by the London School of Economics. For further information, please contact:

Jon Deer
E-mail: j.deer@lse.ac.uk
Tel: +44 20 7455 7272

Gabi Lombardo
E-mail: g.lombardo@lse.ac.uk
Tel: +44 20 7107 5229

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