Social science ‘critical’ to innovation

Funding for science and innovation should increase by at least 10 per cent in real terms over the next Parliament, according to the Campaign for Social Science

February 25, 2015

In a report launched on 24 February, the campaign says the additional funding should be channelled into multidisciplinary research that encompasses science and social science and the humanities.

The report, The Business of People: The Significance of Social Science over the Next Decade, warns that a better grasp of human behaviour and attitudes is necessary to improve services, solve grand challenges and facilitate the adoption of new technology.

The report also calls on the government to appoint a chief social science adviser alongside its chief scientific adviser to “ensure better mobilisation of knowledge for policymakers and oversee the pipeline of graduate students in vital areas of social science, moving into business and research”.

It also calls for more investment in social science big data, and for continued support for the UK’s birth cohort and longitudinal studies. It says tax relief should “recognise innovations in the way companies and public sector organisations work derived from social science expertise”.

James Wilsdon, chair of the campaign, said: “Support for research, data collection and education and training in social science are vital if we are to secure the benefits of innovation and productivity growth.

“Growth, health, security and well-being all depend on knowing how markets, organisations, individuals and households work, making investment in social science a critical component of the government’s strategy for science and innovation.

“It’s with confidence in the absolute necessity of social science that this report stakes its claim on scarce resources.”

The report follows the launch earlier this month of a statement by the British Academy, Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering and Academy of Medical Sciences calling on the government to “secure prosperity by strengthening public investment in research and innovation”.

The Academy of Social Sciences, which launched the Campaign for Social Science in 2011, was reportedly not invited to contribute to that statement on the grounds that its fellows are not selected on the basis of excellence.

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