It gives me great pleasure to introduce the Academy of Social Sciences’ Annual Report. It reflects a year of change in the organisation and of notable successes in our work to promote the social sciences for public benefit.
Throughout a year of political uncertainty, the Academy and its Campaign for Social Science focused on presenting evidence to ‘make the case for the social sciences’ and in advocating to help safeguard them and to raise awareness of their value among decision makers.
Our evidence-led reports demonstrated the positive contribution of the social sciences to graduate employability, and more widely in higher education. We showed the essential roles that social science researchers from across the EU and internationally play in UK universities, as evidence to inform and influence the post-Brexit migration policy and visa considerations. We exemplified the importance of research in the social sciences in addressing the Grand Challenges and in contributing to the Industrial Strategy, as a basis for encouraging UKRI to enhance its funding for UK social science in these areas, as well as more generally.
Our campaign supporters provided the resources that enabled such advocacy work to be done, and we thank them warmly. During the year the Campaign also further consolidated its Strategic Leadership Forum for social science leaders that was newly introduced in 2017.
Fellowship support remained strong in 2018, and 100 new Fellows – leading social scientists drawn from both academia and professional practice – were elected by the Academy. We are most grateful for the many ways in which our Fellows support and encourage our work, in addition to their promotion of social science as Fellows.
2018 saw major changes set in train for leadership within the Academy. Fellows voted in support of a proposal to merge the roles of Chair and President from December 2019. At the year end, Campaign Chair, Professor Shamit Saggar CBE FAcSS announced his impending relocation to Perth, Australia, leaving an important vacancy to be filled in 2019. In June, Stephen Anderson announced his decision to retire after ten successful years as Executive Director, and Dr Rita Gardner CBE FAcSS was appointed as the incoming CEO from early 2019. We also saw significant staff turnover in the secretariat after many years of relative stability.
At a time of change and challenge for both higher education and the social sciences, the role of the Academy and its Campaign has never been more important. With a new team in post, we will be planning a new strategy for growth and development in 2019, building on our current strengths, to enable us to meet more fully the opportunities and challenges of promoting social science.
The Academy of Social Sciences is the national academy of academics, learned societies and practitioners in the social sciences. We are a charity.
Our mission is to promote social science in the United Kingdom for the public benefit. The Academy is composed of 1335 individual Fellows, 43 Member Learned Societies and a number of affiliates, together representing nearly 90,000 social scientists.
The Academy promotes social science in a number of ways. It has a strong presence in influencing policy relevant to the social sciences in higher education; and in promoting the use of social science evidence on key policy issues of our time, such as the Industrial Strategy. The Academy also publishes research, organises events, and contributes to public debates on issues affecting, and informed by, the social sciences. The Campaign for Social Science is a part of the Academy.
Fellowship of the Academy is a key way in which we promote excellence in the social sciences. Many Fellows also support our work. Fellows are distinguished scholars and practitioners, from academia and the public and private sectors, respectively. Fellowship is awarded after peer review to nominated individuals with significant achievements to their name and who have contributed substantially to social science beyond the normal demands of their job. This contribution can, for example, be in leadership, practical application or policy development.
Most Learned Societies in the social sciences in the United Kingdom are represented within the Academy. These include the main bodies for sociologists, psychologists, geographers, criminologists, anthropologists, linguists, political scientists, town planners, social researchers, statisticians, education researchers, and others.
The Campaign for Social Science is the outward-facing, advocacy voice of the Academy of Social Sciences. The Campaign currently works in particular to amplify the voice of social sciences in policy issues affecting all social science disciplines and Higher Education Institutes across the United Kingdom.
Campaign activities focus on evidence-led briefings and reports, events and promoting social sciences in the media. We advocate to inform and influence public policy with social science evidence and promote the benefits of investment in social science education, research and infrastructure.
The Campaign works to ensure that social science evidence and needs are considered alongside hard sciences at key forums where policy and funding decisions are made. Our evidence-led advocacy centres on:
Following the consolidation of the Campaign’s fundraising strategy in 2017, with the establishment of the Supporter Scheme, successful efforts were made to engage new supporters through the course of 2018. Both longstanding and new supporters are warmly thanked for their sponsorship of the Campaign and the support of our advocacy work. By the year end, there were 28 Supporters: 5 Gold level, 14 Silver level and 9 Bronze level. Sage Publishing are long term sponsors of the Campaign, for which the Academy is most grateful.
In late 2018, Professor Shamit Saggar CBE FAcSS indicated that he would step down, in March 2019, from his role as Chair of the Campaign, following his appointment to the University of Western Australia, Perth. During Professor Saggar’s term the Campaign Board was strengthened and its expertise broadened. New appointments in 2018 were drawn from leaders of policy institutes in the university sector and from senior practitioners. This brought Board membership to 15 persons in total, excluding ex-officio members. The Board started work on developing a Campaign strategy and building further alliances beyond academia.
In 2018, our policy work embraced four broad themes:
Higher Education Policy
We focussed on higher education policy issues with potential long-term impact for the social sciences. Working with the Academy’s Policy Working Group, we made a submission to the Augar Review of Post-18 Education on the implications of various options for UK social science. We argued strongly against differential fees, pointed out that employment salaries were not the only indicator of the benefit of university education, and discussed the range of possible effects of changes on both individual behaviours and the strength of universities if resources were cut or reconfigured. We held a number of meetings with members of the Augar team about these issues.
We engaged in formal discussions with officials in relation to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 and to the planned changes to The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF).
Considerable effort was focused on UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) developing Industrial Strategy and ‘Plan S’ (open access) publishing proposals. We had already submitted a response to the government’s Industrial Strategy White Paper, in which we pointed out that robust social science evidence about productivity and dissemination of innovation was vital to understanding ‘what works’. We also pointed out areas where further investment in social science was needed if universities and businesses were to promote innovations relevant to Industrial Strategy. Building on this, we liaised with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the first half of the year to compile a list of case studies showing a range of areas that had benefitted from social science research. We are continuing to develop these and plan to publish a report in 2019 making the case for further investment in social science relevant to industrial strategy.
We made a submission to the House of Commons Inquiry into Balance and Effectiveness of Research and Innovation spending, and the need for additional funds for social sciences to address the ‘grand challenges’ set out by UKRI. Professor James Wilsdon FAcSS and Chair of the Academy’s Policy Working Group gave oral evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on this issue in his personal capacity, drawing on evidence gathered by the Academy.
Late in the year, we worked with Council, our learned society members and others on our response to ‘Plan S’, and the future of open access publishing in social science journals. In 2018 our work drew together empirical evidence, and started to question a number of the statements and presumptions in Plan S, not least as no supporting evidence was provided by Plan S. This was the precursor to responding to formal consultations in 2019, and collaborative work with the social science learned societies.
Post Brexit Issues
We continued work, throughout 2018, to highlight the impact that various post-Brexit arrangements could have for UK social science. Early in 2018, we made a submission to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on Brexit, to draw attention to the fact that access to European research funding and migration regimes for students and staff were not just STEM issues but vital to the social sciences too.
We have since been actively committed to highlighting the issue of post-Brexit migration regimes on social sciences in the UK. In October, we published the first of our reports on post-Brexit visa policy. A World of Talent, provides a detailed analysis of the proportion of international-origin permanent staff in UK social science disciplines, and the proportion of international-origin staff who come from the European Economic Area. This has led to us being asked to give evidence to policy makers and other stakeholders about proposed changes to immigration rules after Brexit.
Government Use of Social Science Data
We continued to promote more and better use of social science evidence in policy making. Activities ranged from meetings with select committee clerks and peers with an interest in this issue, to encouraging learned societies to provide more evidence. The role of compiling the Academy’s valued Policy Monitor was brought in house. Sent monthly to Learned Society Members and individual Fellows, it facilitated greater engagement with Parliamentary activities (in Whitehall and the devolved governments) where social science evidence was needed. All the stakeholders we have consulted believe that having more evidence-based submissions from social scientists would improve their work, and we will be looking for ways to stimulate greater engagement in coming years.
Skills and the Social Science Infrastructure
One of the aims of the Academy is to promote the skills and infrastructure needed for a world-class social science community in the UK. In June 2018, we launched Positive Prospects, a report on the employment prospects of UK social science undergraduates.
We have continued to work with the ESRC and others in making the case for easier and wider access to government-held administrative data for social science research, and on the need to provide more stable funding for longitudinal studies that are a key part of the social science infrastructure.
In 2018, we showcased the importance and contribution of social science with forums, lectures and other events.
The Strategic Leadership Forum met three times in 2018. Attended by senior social science representatives, the Forum offered an opportunity to engage with policy issues, receive expert policy briefings, and hear from both colleagues in the sector and external decision makers, influencers and thought leaders. The meetings addressed topics pertinent to the social sciences and social science leadership in higher education such as changes in the research funding landscape; post-Brexit visas and migration; and staffing issues in UK higher education. Expert speakers included Professor Alan Manning, Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, and UKRI Board members Professor Sir Ian Diamond and Professor Julia Black, among others. The Forum is an entitlement for Gold and Silver level Campaign supporters.
Andy Haldane FAcSS, Chief Economist at the Bank of England, delivered the Academy’s Annual Lecture on The UK’s Productivity Problem: Hub No Spokes. His thought-provoking lecture focussed on how Britain’s poor record of productivity growth over the last 10 years could be addressed and solutions found. The speech was well received by a full auditorium of around 100 social science academics, practitioners and policy makers.
We convened the ‘Social Science Research and the House of Lords’ meeting in partnership with the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), the British Academy and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The meeting was assembled in response to a request from Lord David Lipsey and addressed the challenges of providing robust social science evidence to meet Parliamentary needs and how social science research currently feeds into the House of Lords.
The Campaign’s 2018 Annual Lecture, in partnership with SAGE Publishing, was delivered by renowned economist, Paul Johnson CBE FAcSS, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Visiting Professor of Economics at University College London. Johnson’s lecture Public Policy 10 Years After the Crisis offered a thoughtful assessment of the public policy landscape a decade on from the financial crisis of 2008. The lecture was well attended, received significant social media coverage and conveyed the Campaign’s aim to communicate complex social science analysis to wide, non-technical audiences.
The International Advisory Group (IAG), chaired by Professor Linda Hantrais FAcSS, has continued to work closely with the Campaign for Social Science, the Policy Working Group, member learned societies and various UK and international bodies in organising events, publications and consultations on the international dimension of social science research and policy. Under the auspices of the Academy and with funding support from Taylor & Francis/Routledge, members of the group convened the final seminar Building Age-friendly Cities: New Approaches to Environmental Design and Social Policy in the series launched in 2017 to explore International and Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives on Evidence-Based Policy. IAG members continued to represent the Academy at meetings of the European Alliance for Social Sciences and Humanities (EASSH) in its mission of promoting research on social sciences and humanities through the European Commission’s multi-research programmes.
We participated in the Royal Society’s Parliamentary pairing scheme exhibition and reception. The Royal Society Parliamentary pairing scheme gives policymakers and research scientists an opportunity to experience each other’s worlds. The exhibition and reception gave us an opportunity to talk to scientists, parliamentarians and civil servants about our work and the importance of social science in parliamentary work.
A successful President’s Lunch was held at University College, Oxford, where the President of the Academy, Professor Sir Ivor Crewe FAcSS, is the Master. The event was attended by a full house of 120 Fellows, learned society members and their guests. Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of The Guardian and now Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, gave a fascinating talk about fake news, digital transformation and democracy.
In recent years, the Academy has risen considerably in its presence and standing in national public affairs and in our capacity to represent social science perspectives. That in turn relies heavily on the expertise in our membership and on our ability to communicate effectively.
Throughout 2018, we continued to develop our websites for both the Academy and its Campaign and to build our presence on social media platforms. Improvements were made to the policy and events web sections. Media coverage included 18 articles in international, national and sector press, together with 12 Twitter campaigns and an average Twitter reach of approximately 50,000 per month.
In May, we published in hard copy and online the latest in a series of booklets, Making the Case for the Social Sciences. The new publication on Accounting and Finance was in partnership with the British Accounting and Finance Association (BAFA) and the British Accounting Review. The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, gave the keynote speech at the launch of the publication in the House of Commons to an audience of MPs, policy makers, academics and educators. She highlighted the importance of mathematics and financial knowledge and shared insights from her own background in accountancy and economics.
The Making the Case booklets aim to demonstrate the power of social science research to improve lives, and are brought together by expert groups led by Academy Fellows. Professor Jane Broadbent FAcSS, who chaired the booklet advisory group, said “Finance and accounting is all-pervasive – in the context of our personal worlds, organisations, or governments”. She talked about the value of accounting and finance and how the exemplars reported in the Making the Case booklet showcase a small portion of the important research into the wide range of finance and accounting practices.
In June the Campaign published Positive Prospects: careers for social science graduates and why number and data skills matter. Sponsored by SAGE Publishing, this report is aimed at social science students at university and secondary schools, and at schools and careers officers. It shows that employment prospects are generally good for social science graduates (though varying by discipline). It details post-graduate employment rates for various disciplines, and also summarises evidence about post-graduate earnings. It shows that having number and data skills improve post-graduate prospects, and describes various routes to acquire these skills. The launch conference event on 8 June was well attended, with university academics, careers officers and widening participation staff all taking part and it was also promoted at roadshows with learned societies and universities.
A World of Talent, published in October, provided a detailed analysis of the proportion of international-origin permanent staff in UK social science disciplines, and the proportion of international-origin staff who come from the European Economic Area. The report profiles disciplines, and regional distributions of international-origin staff. It shows there is no STEM/ non-STEM divide (in that there are social science disciplines with higher proportions of international-origin staff than STEM subject averages), and that disciplinary profiles are generally similar across regions and countries in the UK. As a result, the Campaign for Social Science now has a strong external reputation for its work on migration regimes, as well as Brexit. This work continues into 2019.
The Academy’s journal, Contemporary Social Science, continued an active programme of publishing in 2018, with editions available both in print and online. The themed issues were:
The journal reflects the Academy’s essentially inter-disciplinary nature by publishing themed issues, each with specialist guest editors, plus an introductory podcast. Around 100 papers were submitted for publication in the journal in 2018 and we now have issues in hand to cover the next two years, at four themed issues a year. All recent issues will be published as books in the Contemporary Issues in Social Science series.
SPRE (Scottish Policy and Research Exchange)
The Academy, through its Campaign, took the decision in 2018 to support a new project in Scotland that aims to help researchers and policy makers work with each other more effectively. SPRE aims to expand the evidence base and the range of expert voices available to the policy community in Scotland and to help scholars – especially early career scholars within the social sciences – to maximise the impact of their research.
The project is funded through charitable donations from policy and academic institutions and advised by a steering group chaired by Rebekah Widdowfield, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The Academy has taken a leadership role by providing a legal framework for the employment of the project’s first director, Nick Bibby, who commenced in post in January 2019. Regular reports on the project are received by the Campaign Board. More information is available at www.spre.scot
PRO-RES (Promoting Ethics and Integrity in Non-medical Research)
May saw the commencement of the Academy’s role as a partner in the consortium of institutions responsible for the EU-funded, PRO-RES project, led by the European Science Foundation. The Academy’s contribution, which is being delivered by a number of our Fellows, focuses on the development of a framework for ethical considerations in the pursuit of social science research. The three-year programme got off to a good start in 2018. It is intended that the project outcomes will benefit social science research and its communities in the UK, across Europe and globally.
Learned Societies and Professional Bodies in the social sciences exist at the heart of the Academy, as independent bodies affiliated to the Academy through membership. Instrumental in forming the Academy, the Learned Societies represent distinct disciplinary and professional communities, bringing subject specific depth to complement the Academy’s breadth of excellence in its academic and practitioner Fellows. Together our memberships comprise over 90,000 social scientists – a truly powerful community.
In 2018 the Academy had 43 learned society and professional body members, with the loss of one member and the addition of a new member during the year.
Learned society engagement and dialogue took place in three ways, mostly through the quarterly meetings open to all member societies:
The learned societies, many of whom own journals that are world leading flagship journals for their disciplines, and who also gain a significant part of their income from journal publishing, ended the year very concerned with the position taken by CoalitionS that hybrid journals would not be allowable as open access compliant.
Member Learned Societies in 2018
Our Fellows are the beating heart of the Academy – leading scholars and practitioners, drawn from right across the social sciences in the UK and beyond.
We were delighted to award 100 new Fellowships in 2018, bringing the total to 1,335. All our Fellows have made a substantial contribution to social science, going beyond the normal requirements of their position.
Benefits of Fellowship include being part of a growing, dynamic community with influence and impact. We are an advocate for social science across a broad front and promote the value and contribution of the social sciences to audiences that range from students to policy makers.
Fellows have access to a network of like-minded people, working in a whole variety of different fields and spheres, with numerous opportunities for learning and co-operation. In 2018, these included our high-profile Annual Academy and Campaign lectures and our annual President’s Lunch which took place at University College, Oxford.
The Academy encourages the development of Regional Fellows’ Chapters across the UK. These provide a forum for colleagues to meet for knowledge sharing and discussion. Activities in 2018 included an event in Manchester for Fellows based in the north-west of England. Professor Henry Overman FAcSS gave a presentation on ‘Cities rebalancing the economy and industrial strategy’.
It is clear the Academy could not function without the support of our Fellows. All contributions play an essential role in the Academy delivering its objectives: whether as Trustees charged with the governance of the Academy; as committee members helping to guide and facilitate our work; or in the provision of expert knowledge to inform our policy-facing and campaigning activities. All are warmly thanked for supporting the Academy and its work.
We congratulate our Fellows who received public honours in 2018 in recognition of their contribution to social science.
New Year’s Honours
Queen’s Birthday Honours
Additionally, Geoff Harcourt FAcSS, an Honorary Professor at the University of New South Wales, Australia, was awarded Companion of the Order of Australia (for services to higher education).
The Academy is governed by its council of prominent social scientists. We have 20 council members. The council has an Executive Committee to deal with day-to-day matters and various other committees and groups to advise it.
Professor Sir Ivor Crewe FAcSS – President
Professor Roger Goodman FAcSS – Chair of Council
Professor Jane Broadbent FAcSS – Honorary Secretary
Professor Mike Danson FAcSS – Honorary Treasurer
Professor Cara Aitchison FAcSS
Professor Cara Aitchison Nic Beech FAcSS
Emeritus Professor David Byrne FAcSS
Chris Caswill FAcSS
Dr. Richard Collins FAcSS
Professor Tony Crook CBE FAcSS
Professor Robert Dingwall FAcSS
Emeritus Professor John Goddard OBE FAcSS
Professor Andrew Jones FAcSS
Professor Simon Marginson FAcSS
Dame Jil Matheson FAcSS
Professor Vicky Pryce FAcSS
Professor Sasha Roseneil FAcSS
Professor Andrew Ross FAcSS
Professor Sue Scott FAcSS
Professor James Wilsdon FAcSS
Audit and Risk Management Committee
CEO-Chief Officers of Learned Societies Group
International Advisory Group
Policy Working Group
Public Honours Committee
Campaign for Social Science Board
The Secretariat, as of 31 December 2018
Stephen Anderson – Executive Director
Sharon Witherspoon MBE FAcSS – Head of Policy
Kate Atkins – Chief Secretary
Helen Cadwallader – Senior Operations Manager
Dr Ashley Thomas Lenihan – Senior Policy Adviser
Marta Kask – Campaign for Social Science Manager
Aarti Basnyat – Communications Manager
Colin Lorne – Policy Officer
Ian Williams – Finance Manager
Leila Hancox – Membership Assistant
The Academy’s expenditure in 2018 exceeded £500,000 for the first time in its history. Incoming resources totalled £759,318.
We ended 2018 with a small surplus on our core Academy operations, bringing our unrestricted reserves to a total of £94,198. This performance was underpinned by an increase in subscription income of approximately £57,000 arising mainly from the combination of an increase in subscription rates and a modest net increase in the number of Fellows. It was balanced largely by the additional costs of placing staff on PAYE employment contracts, plus increases in the cost of meetings, in professional fees and the requirement to pay VAT on aspects of our core operations.
In contrast, the Academy had a significant increase in restricted income during the year, arising largely from funds raised, by the project leaders, to resource two major new projects. The Academy helped establish these projects – PRO-RES and SPRE – and holds financial responsibility for them. The funds will be used solely to support these projects in 2018 and subsequent years.
These incoming restricted resources mask the success of the Campaign for Social Science in growing its (restricted) fundraising during the year to support much of our outward-facing advocacy work. All our supporters are very warmly thanked, as their support is essential to the delivery of this vital work. During the year, the Campaign called upon some of its reserves to meet planned project expenditure; and to meet the costs of VAT owing on Campaign Supporters Scheme donations which were deemed during the year to be sponsorship income by HMRC, and thus subject to VAT. The Campaign ended the year with reserves of £85,427. In 2019 the core Academy and Campaign operations will face ongoing financial pressures with a full year of all staff on PAYE contracts and payment of VAT, not all of which will we be able to recover. In summary, the Academy’s accounts remain in positive balance, supported by reasonable reserves. The organisation continues to be committed to the careful control of expenditure and stewarding of incoming resources.
We confirm that the information contained in these summarised financial statements is taken from the annual accounts for the year ended 31st December 2018. The full accounts were approved by the board on 28th May 2019 and are subject to an unqualified Independent Examiner’s Report, and have been submitted to the Charity Commission. These summarised financial statements may not contain sufficient information to allow for a full understanding of the financial affairs of The Academy of Social Sciences. The full accounts are available at The Academy of Social Sciences’ Registered Office.
2019 marks the beginning of a period of change for the Academy. The start of the year sees a new Chief Executive take over the reins, following the retirement of Stephen Anderson after 10 years of committed service as Executive Director. Dr Rita Gardner joins the Academy with a background in academia and leadership in the learned society sector.
The Academy will embark on a phase of strategic development, commencing in the second half of 2019, to chart its course for the next three years. It will build on the solid foundations developed over the Academy’s past two decades. Consultations will be held with Fellows and other key stakeholders with the purpose of developing further the Academy’s activities and profile in line with its charitable objective – the promotion of the social sciences for public benefit. It is anticipated that a modest number of major new projects will be planned and subsequently implemented, subject to successful fundraising. As a lean organisation with limited staff resources the projects will be tightly focused on clear objectives that meet identified needs and opportunities. The new strategy will be published in the first half of 2020.
We will also see a significant change in the composition of the Academy’s Council and in those holding many of the senior trustee responsibilities. The coincidence of completion of fixed terms on the Council means that nine new Councillors will be welcomed to their induction and first meeting in September, bringing new expertise to the governing body. This includes a new chair to be appointed to the Campaign for Social Science following Professor Saggar’s relocation to the University of Western Australia.
Meanwhile, the Fellowship, and our policy and advocacy work for the social sciences in a period of relative political turmoil, will remain at the heart of our work in 2019. We shall also aim for improvements in administrative processes during the year, to enhance efficiency and outreach, and to meet new statutory requirements. Administrative frameworks will also be established for the two new projects that the Academy helped to set up in 2018 – Pro-Res and the Scottish Policy Research Exchange.
In all a busy year of sustaining core activities while starting to plan for the future.