Figures show we must brush up our stats 2

April 22, 2010

It was good to see a short report in last week's Times Higher Education on the ESRC's International Benchmarking Review of UK Sociology ("Quantitative is qualitative"). While you rightly pointed to the report's identification of the discipline's relative lack of quantitative skills, you might also have mentioned its recognition of the "innovative work done in qualitative methods".

The overall conclusion of the report also bears mentioning. "Sociology in the UK is in a healthy state, intellectually vibrant and endowed with the capacity to respond vigorously to current and future challenges. We attest UK sociology to be at the international forefront with its intellectual performance and research output."

It goes on to describe British sociology as second in the world only to the US, which, when one considers the latter's size, proves that the discipline here is punching well above its weight internationally.

This offers one illustration of Sir Roderick Floud's point in the same issue: European social science does well compared with its American counterpart ("Europe, know thyself: social science solutions to the biggest problems").

John D. Brewer, President, British Sociological Association, Professor of sociology, University of Aberdeen.

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