Shut out by STEM say social scientists

Their lobby wants a bigger role in meeting the national research priorities

In February the then, and now continuing government commissioned a review of how public research funding covers the nine national research priorities and challenges.*

Not real well, according to the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia which argues that the bias to STEM in them should be addressed, because social science research has a major, but now too largely ignored role, to play.

“While the articulation of the challenges and priorities exhibit a clear STEM bias, this bias is not so strong that it explains the extreme imbalance in STEM and HASS research funding. The cause of this imbalance is in part the implementation and application of these priorities and challenges, rather than simply the articulation of the Priorities and Challenges themselves,” ASSA argues in its submission to the review.

It proposes four measures to correct the imbalance;

* the Australian Research Council fund ASSA to research the distribution of research funding, research activity and performance

* the ARC “acknowledge the need for the development of a broader set of metrics that better reflects the public value of innovation in all its forms.”

* the ARC develop a metrics protocol that compensates for disadvantages in cross-disciplinary comparisons of research.

* the ARC, in cooperation with learned academies. continue to refine the national interest test used for the priorities

“We recognise the contribution that can be made by pure or applied science research. It is obviously appropriate and useful. But the cause of the heavy pure and applied science focus in attempting to address the priorities and challenges is not the natural or inevitable result of their articulation. The objectives behind the priorities and challenges would often be as well or indeed better addressed by integrating social science research.

  • the priorities are, food, soil and water, transport, cyber security, energy, resources, manufacturing, environmental change and health.


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