That foundation needs a redesign in order for the social sciences to continue helping our communities address problems ranging from income inequality to education reform.
For decades, partnerships among these institutions supported principles at the core of the research enterprise—openness, accessibility, transparency, and quality.
Central too was the notion that research findings are both authoritative and provisional: research remains open to challenge from potentially better ideas and encourages debate when new evidence and arguments arise.
In their discussions, members of the Task Force took particular notice of the long-term developments, described below, that have produced deep challenges for the social sciences.
Focusing on new possibilities to advance social knowledge, this report calls for a new “research compact”—which would emerge from reimagined collaboration among researchers, institutions, policymakers, and the private sector—to improve the pursuit of social knowledge and its potential to contribute to the common good.
In addition, today’s social scientists face unprecedented demands for accountability, speedy publication, and generation of novel results.
These pressures have emerged from the fragmented institutional foundation that undergirds research.
Social science also provides methods for solving problems—from organ donor matching systems to internet search algorithms.5 If this promise is to be secured, new partnerships must be crafted among academics, governments, corporate leaders, philanthropic organizations, and NGOs.
The challenge of building a new research compact among these actors lies at the center of this report and its recommendations.
Though this report focuses principally on the United States, the issues it addresses resonate in other parts of the world as well.
The Task Force consulted many constituencies and conducted intensive internal discussions over the course of eighteen months (see the appendix regarding the consultation process).