Global Report on the Social Sciences 2010

World report on Social Sciences

Social science from western countries are still the most influence at the global level, but this field is expanding rapidly in Asia and Latin America, and more specifically in China and Brazil. In sub-Saharan Africa, social scientists from south Africa, Nigeria and Kenya produce 75% of academic publications. In South Asia, the social sciences have low priority, except in some research centers of excellence in India. These are some of the conclusions of the World Report on the Social Sciences 2010, published in English, by the International Social Sciences Council (ISSC) and UNESCO in 2010, and whose version in Spanish, produced thanks to the support of the Advisory Forum for Science and Technology (FCCT) and the Mexican Council of Social Sciences (COMECSO), was presented this Monday the 27th of February, in Mexico.




Informe Mundial sobre las Ciencias Sociales 2010

Now available in English, French and Spanish, this Report, entitled “gaps in knowledge” offers, for the first time since more than a decade ago, a global view of the social sciences. Hundreds of social scientists from around the world contributed with their knowledge.

“The work of the specialists in social sciences are of remarkable quality and of a great practical value, but the scientific knowledge of the society, as highlighted in this Report, it is usually the least developed in those parts of the world where more peremptorily needed,” said the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, in her foreword to the publication. “Also, the efforts made in the field of social sciences, tend to concentrate too much in the industrialized countries of anglo-saxon culture, they do not give all the results that you might expect. In this way, it is a missed opportunity to explore perspectives and paradigms that are rooted in other cultures and languages”.

These “gaps of knowledge” constitute the main theme of the World Report on the Social Sciences 2010 that studies how to evolve these sciences face of unequal conditions and diverging trends. The Report highlights that the social sciences are more necessary than ever to deal effectively with the most serious problems facing humanity, from poverty to epidemics to climate change. However, due to the deep disparities in the capacities of research, the contribution of the social sciences is not as important as it could be.

The Report has a threefold aspect: descriptive, with a presentation of facts and statistics on the production of the social sciences and its dissemination in the world; oriented to the solution of problems, with a review of the application of the social sciences to the problems of contemporary society; and reflective, with trials in which it runs on the prospects and general topics of regional interest.

The 10 chapters of the Report include, among others, the following topics: social sciences, and global changes; overview of the social sciences in the different regions of the world; capabilities in terms of research and brain drain; internationalization; competition in the knowledge society; and the development of policies. In the final chapter proposes various means to strengthen the social sciences, for example, the increase in funding, conducting of research with specific objectives, the better dissemination of those jobs, and the promotion of multilingualism and multidisciplinary approaches.

“With this Report, UNESCO reiterates its commitment in favour of the social sciences. Our Organization wishes to establish a new global programme with a view to promoting, in its quality of instrument of priceless value to contribute to the progress towards the development goals agreed by the international community,” says Irina Bokova.


The social sciences in the world

Some facts and figures from the World Report on the Social Sciences 2010: the Dividing of the knowledge

The social sciences face the world

  • “The scale, pace, magnitude, and significance of the changes in the global environment make clearly see that the ‘research usual’ will not suffice to help individuals and groups to understand the multiple changes interactive that are being registered, and responding to them” (O’brien).
  • Inequalities. The degree of wealth of the 1% poorest of the population of the united States of America is higher than 62% of the world’s population. Only 3% of the richest in India reach a level of wealth higher than that of the poorest inhabitants of the united States. The poor of Brazil are among the poorest inhabitants of the planet, but the richest of this country are among the percentile of people with a higher income of the whole world (Milanovic).
  • The population of the world has multiplied by almost four over the last century, going from 1.600 to 6.100 million people (Chamie).

    In 1960, it was estimated that the number of migrants oscillated at around 77 million. Half a century after it has been multiplied almost by three, reaching the figure of 214 million (Chamie).

    The proportion of the global population of 65 years of age or older is going to double probably from here to the middle of the present century. In some countries, such as Spain, Italy and Japan, it is expected that in 2050 one out of every three people will be 65 years or older (Chamie).

Systems scientific research society in the world (Chapter 2)

  • 90% of higher education institutions of Latin America is only engaged in teaching activities (Vessuri and Lopez).

    More than two-thirds of the whole of the Latin american programs for postgraduate students which include research activities are concentrated in the public universities of Brazil and Mexico (Vessuri and Lopez).
  • The proportion represented by the sub-Saharan Africa in the global production of scientific work underwent a dramatic decline, going from 1% in 1987 to 0.7% in 1996, without having shown any sign of recovery to date (Mouton).

    The scientific production of sub-Saharan Africa decreased by 31% with respect to the proportion they represented at the world science in 1987, the year in which reached its climax (Mouton).

    75% of academic publications in sub-Saharan Africa published in the database “Web of Science” are the work of specialists in social sciences of south Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, belonging to a very small group of universities (Mouton).

    In sub-Saharan Africa, the state funding of research in the social sciences is the exception and not the rule (Mouton).
  • In the Arab States, authoritarian regimes tend to exercise a strong control over the social sciences, to crush the freedom of thought and setting what areas, estimated acceptable or unacceptable for teaching and research (Arvanitis, Waast and To have such power).
  • In China, the budget allocated to teaching and research in social and human sciences has been a yearly progression of 15% to 20% since 2003 (Huang).
  • In India, the 64,60% of the 11.028.000 young people enrolled in institutions of higher education the 2005-2006 school year were in studies of social sciences and humanities, if you add the education and the business sciences. However, only a small proportion of the 400 national universities existing –between 15% and 20%– can be considered as centers of research, since the remaining 80% is devoted exclusively to teaching activities (Krishna and Krishna).
  • In Europe, half of the government funding for the social sciences is concentrated in just two countries: Germany and the United Kingdom (Van Langenhove).
  • In the Russian Federation, the social sciences experienced a decline, very considerable after the fall of the soviet regime. Between 1991 and 1999, the decrease in the number of researchers and technicians was 458.500 and 128.200, respectively. Just 18.200 migrated abroad and the rest are dispersed among different economic sectors. The biggest concern today is the aging of the personnel dedicated to Research and Development, due to the difficulties to attract young people with talent. In 2007, Russian researchers in the social sciences were 13.740, a figure approximately equal to that registered in 1999. Half of them are economists (Pipiya).

Capabilities uneven

Commercialization of research

  • More than two-thirds of the university professors of the 14 countries belonging to the Community for the Southern African Development (SADC) regularly work to consulting companies (Source: survey just completed by the CREST, Center of Scientific and Technological Research of the University of Stellenbosch (south Africa), quoted by Mouton).

Brain drain

  • One out of every three doctors in economics and nearly one out of every five doctors in the social sciences who work in the united States are from foreign countries (Jeanpierre).
  • It is estimated that since 1990 an average of 20,000 highly qualified professionals left to work every year in the higher education systems of the countries of Africa, in order to look for a job in the united States and Europe, and even in the Middle East and Australia. The social sciences and humanities have been particularly affected by this exodus. Some disciplines, such as history, archaeology and philosophy, see jeopardize its existence in many countries (Olukoshi).

An exemplary case

  • In Brazil, thanks to the redoubled efforts of the government and the increase of investments in the development of human resources, the number of researchers in the social sciences has come to almost triple in the last decade. Currently, a total 37.500 on a total of 118.000, which comes to represent a 32 per-cent of the whole of the country researchers (Guzmăo).

Internationalization uneven

  • North america and Western Europe stood at the head of the international collaboration in the field of the social sciences (Frenken, Hoekman and Hardeman).
  • Despite the globalization of research, in the past two decades, the peripheral regions have not come to be better integrated in the international systems in social sciences (Frenken, Hoekman and Hardeman).
  • In the last twenty years has increased the dependency of other regions with respect to the research work of western countries, as shown by the measurement of the number of citations of these papers (Gingras and Mosbah-Natanson).
  • 75% of social science journals in the world are published in Europe and North America (Gingras and Mosbah-Natanson).

    The united states is the country where most social science journals are published: a 25% of the global total. Come after the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany. These four countries together published, 66% of the social science journals of the world (Gingras and Mosbah-Natanson).
  • English is, by far, the most used language in social science journals: 85.3% of the magazines of the college and reviewed that are listed in the database Ulrich edited, in whole or in part, in English.
  • The largest increase in the number of articles on the topics of social science occurred in Latin America (+74%). Come behind Europe (+58.4 per cent) and Asia (+56,7%). The group formed by Russia and the countries of the commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is the only one that has seen a decline in the number of articles (-4,6%) (Gingras and Mosbah-Natanson).

Main areas of research in social sciences in a group of selected countries

  • In Latin America and the Caribbean, the main field of research in social sciences what are the “cognitive sciences and of the conduct”; in India, predominantly the studies “human society”, which include the work of sociology and anthropology; and in China the prevailing studies commerce, management, tourism and services. (Russell and Ainsworth).
  • The economy and the management are two disciplines of study important in Latin America –especially in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina– India and China (Russell and Ainsworth).
  • In the past twenty-five years, legal studies and literature were gaining ground, while the research work on the history and economy declined (Waast, Arvanitis and others).
  • At the global level, most of the jobs reported in the “Thomson Reuters’ Social Science Citation Index” (SSCI) covering two disciplines: psychology and economics. In the period 1990-2007 the proportion of research works on economics and management increased, while the percentage of studies devoted to the political science decreased (Jonkers).

Demography of the social sciences in a group of OECD countries

  • In the countries of the OECD issued a 52,000 titles of doctor in social sciences in 2006, which accounted for 25% of the doctorates awarded in these countries. For the second consecutive year, more than half –52% to be exact– of those titles, senior researchers in the social sciences were awarded to women (Auriol).
  • While the overall number of people who have obtained a doctoral degree increased continuously in the last few years (+40% in the period 1998-2006), the number of which is doctoraron in the social sciences grew even more quickly (+50%). This was due in part to the greater presence of women in doctoral studies (Auriol).
  • The average age of obtaining the phd is the highest in the field of social and human sciences than in the natural sciences and engineering (Auriol).
  • In most of the nine countries for which data are available, the unemployment rate of doctors in social sciences are lower than those of the set of the population that possesses a doctorate degree (Auriol).

Other countries of the world

  • In China the number of graduates in law, management and economics had more than doubled in the period 2002-2005, whereas the number of graduates in history are retained at a fairly low level.
  • In Brazil, 66% of the holders of a doctorate were working in 2004 in academic institutions and 18% in various public administrations. The rate of formal employment and the salaries of doctors in applied social science were higher than those of the other holders of a doctorate (Guzmăo).

Publication and dissemination of research in social sciences

  • In the past two decades, university presses have been faced with a marked tendency to the decrease of sales of papers written by research (Hackett).
  • 90% of the expert groups existing currently in the united States of America were created after 1951, and their number multiplied by more than two in the period 1980-2007 (Anheier).

    The commitment made recently by several u.s. foundations to allocate, over a decade, a sum of $ 110 million with a view to strengthening the expert groups in the countries of the South, highlights the importance that these have in the conduct of research projects designed to facilitate the formulation of national policies (Asher and Guilhot).

Measure the inputs and outputs of the social sciences

  • In all the countries is problematic, the measurement of the inputs and the results of the Research and Development in general, and of the social sciences in particular. There are No procedures fully standardized for data collection. Ultimately, the reliability of the data rests solely on the statements on accuracy made by the respective national agencies responsible for pick-up (Kahn).



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