Academy frets over prestige deficit of its social scientists

February 14, 2008

The Academy of Social Sciences lacks the kudos of similar bodies such as the Royal Society, a report has concluded.

An internal report from the academy leaked to Times Higher Education says the perceived standing of the academy "has to be raised so that it is seen as an honour both to those who are elected as academicians and the rest of the world".

"Being a member ... and using the initials AcSS, does not seem to be seen as a special privilege in the way that being a fellow of the Royal Society or British Academy are. This needs to change," the nominations working group says.

Proposals include introducing a form of peer review to the nominations process. It would also be "helpful" if background material on the process could include "more emphasis" on the honour and privilege of being an academician.

But the group does not advocate changing the criteria for nomination or setting a limit to the number of academicians, as many qualified academics have yet to be put forward.

Minutes of a recent board meeting show that the academy is in financial difficulty. They note: "The need to raise cash is urgent ... Our aim should be to do as little as possible to raise as much money as we can as quickly as we can."

The academy needs to find at least £30,000 of new income this year to keep up its current level of activities and remain solvent.

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