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Social scientists look to prove their worth in the big policy debates of 2016

Image: Garry Knight [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

The New Year offers social scientists the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of their work by providing evidence to policymakers amid debates on membership of the European Union, the refugee crisis, immigration and national security.

Roger Goodman—chairman of the council of the Academy of Social Sciences and head of the Social Sciences Division at the University of Oxford—picks the UK’s referendum on EU membership as the research topic of 2016. “The social sciences can introduce some real and robust evidence,” he says. “It will be a very difficult and sometimes very emotional debate.”

Another hot topic for academics is likely to be security studies. Paul Taylor, director of the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats at Lancaster University, says that extremist ideologies, protective security, risk assessment and online behaviour will all see increased attention. This year the centre, which launched last October, will hire about 20 researchers and PhD students and open two funding calls.

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