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In the run up to the general election, The Guardian are profiling subject areas to see how they could be affected by a change of government and policy priorities. This week their focus is on the social sciences.

The key issues:

  • Politicians don’t pay enough attention to the latest social science research when coming up with policies.
  • There is currently no senior Whitehall social science adviser.
  • There’s little funding to go around. ESRC success rates dropped to 10% in July 2014, and the research council has recently announced a big change to their standard grants scheme which means the minimum threshold has almost doubled. This could leave those social science researchers looking for smaller grants - between £10k and £350k - with nowhere to go.
  • Many social scientists believe their achievements are undervalued, especially when compared with the work of those in science, technology, engineering and mathematics departments.

HSMC's Professor Jon Glasby was one of seven contributors commenting on why political debate needs to place greater value on this area. These included academics, sector experts and a government peer.

Jon Glasby, "With so much emphasis on Stem, social sciences can sometimes appear to take a back seat. Perhaps we're a bit dazzled and bewildered by the science, or perhaps these Stem subjects seem more tangible, immediate and impressive. However, social sciences touch all our lives in so many different ways, and ought to be much more centre stage in terms of national policy debates. Our Health Services Management Centre pioneered the analysis of routine NHS data to identify potential poor care, was instrumental in improving NHS waiting times, provides policy advice to government on a range of current issues and is playing a key role in delivering what is believed to be the largest leadership development investment in the history of the NHS. Colleagues in social policy are exploring the rise of Islamophobia, studying the impact of changing matters of migration, looking at issues of debt and poverty, trying to improve housing, developing new ways of supporting families who are facing multiple disadvantages and working with voluntary organisations and charities involved in delivering public services. None of this is about ivory towers or about navel gazing - it's about high quality research addressing immediate social and policy issues and making a difference to people's lives."

Professor Jon Glasby

 Read the full Guardian article 'Unloved and sidelined: Why are social sciences neglected by politicians?'

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