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Don’t neglect social sciences and humanities, academics warn

Europe’s leadership must maintain and grow high-quality research and education in the humanities and social sciences, according to science academy Academia Europaea.

Research tends to be evaluated “almost exclusively with an eye on short-term economic benefit”, which may lead to “non-recoverable losses in the humanities and to some extent in the social sciences” the academy warns.

The European Commission and national governments should recreate adequate incentives for academic work in the humanities and social sciences through grants, stipends, mobility funds and prizes, the academy recommends in a position paper released last week.

For example, the European Research Council should support multidisciplinary research projects that will keep small disciplines alive, the academy says. Public authorities should also support the creation of multidisciplinary regional studies and promote cohesion among divided research communities, it adds.

When evaluating research public authorities must remember that English-centred bibliometric tools do not necessarily take humanities research in the national language into account, the academia’s members warn. This could lead to the loss of recognition for excellent research, they say.

“To invest in the humanities and social sciences is also to invest in deepening our understanding and acceptance of diversity, and in increasing our level of cohesion as European citizens,” the position paper reads.