Social Sciences and Humanities

NIKOLA BENIN

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Horizon 2020 (H2020) brought a new approach to funding opportunities for researchers in the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). Whereas in the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) the SSH had their own dedicated programme and budget line, SSH research is now fully integrated into each of the priorities of H2020. This strategy is based on the premise that the SSH are essential if H2020 projects are to be a true benefit for society.

Cross-disciplinary cooperation

This new approach represents a completely novel form of cross-disciplinary cooperation. It is a challenge for both researchers in the SSH domains and for project partners in all the other disciplines. If the SSH community wants to participate in H2020, they should not only look for suitable topics in Societal Challenge 6, “Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies”, but in all the other programmes as well. In order to simplify the search for suitable topics, the European Commission (EC) flags all the topics with SSH relevance in each Work Programme. A handy guide summarises these opportunities (see link below).

The technology and life sciences communities are also challenged because in many calls they need to put together a trans-disciplinary consortium and take on board partners from the SSH. And the role of the SSH partners should not be restricted to activities such as communication and management – they are expected to provide a scientifically relevant contribution to the solution of a multidisciplinary problem.

Further efforts needed

A monitoring report from the EC, which analysed all the 2014 calls for proposals, concluded that the integration of SSH in all parts of H2020 had been only partially successful and that there was still room for improvement. Nowhere near all projects funded under the SSH-flagged topics have SSH partners. This may point to insufficient guidance to evaluators during the evaluation process. To address this, the EC is focussing on improving the quality of the evaluation process and the topic descriptions for the upcoming calls for proposals.

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