British academy

UK Strategic Forum for the Social Sciences

The UK Strategic Forum for the Social Sciences brings together senior representatives from organisations that fund, commission and use social science research in order to facilitate discussion about the major issues and challenges facing the social sciences. The Forum provides an arena for these issues to be debated at the highest level, and to ensure the needs of the social sciences are addressed and tackled. The Forum was established in 2001, originally hosted by the Economic and Social Research Council. Since October 2009 the British Academy has hosted the Forum. It meets twice-yearly at the offices of the British Academy

The Forum has four key aims:

  • To facilitate high-level knowledge exchange;
  • To maintain a strategic overview of social science capacity in UK institutions;
  • To monitor and share information about the policy, political and structural context within which UK social science research takes place;
  • To advocate the value of social science research, in the UK and internationally.

Areas of discussion

The Forum’s agenda for its twice-yearly meetings is constructed to enable strategic discussion about topical areas of shared interest or concern. Recent themes included:

  • The plans to end the Census in its current form to inform individual member response to the House of Commons inquiry (November 2011);
  • The release of government data for secondary analysis;
  • The role of social science, and particularly the Chief Scientific Advisers, in government policy making (including responses to the House of Lords inquiry in October 2011);
  • Government policies on higher education, science and research strategies and funding;
  • The Research Excellence Framework 2014;
  • The capacity of social science research in UK institutions, including areas of vulnerability;
  • The demand for and use of social science research by government and other policy organisation.

In 2010, the Forum published two joint position statements; on One Step Beyond, the Government-commissioned review of postgraduate study and research, and on the REF 2014. You can download the response to One Step Beyond and the response to REF 2014.

Member organisations will use the Forum to debate issues and challenges facing the social sciences. The Forum does not inhibit individual organisations’ freedom of action but will facilitate coherent initiatives and policy positions when it is deemed appropriate. 

For more information on the work of the Forum, please contact Alan Palmer, on a.palmer@britac.ac.uk or 020 7969 5313. For information about the specific organisations, please use the links on the right to visit the individual websites.