Launching the NORSSHVALUE network

Towards a Nordic Perspective on the Public Value of Social Sciences and Humanities Research (NORSSHVALUE)

There is a huge interest in policy-makers, university managers and academics regarding how investments in science create benefits for the wider societies that fund the underpinning research. Early understandings of these benefits were often extremely reductive, focusing on the direct financial and economic benefits that research brought, such as creating new companies, or licenses and spin-outs. More recently, there has been a recognition that this narrow notion of value needs broadening in order to effectively capture the public value created by research in the social sciences and humanities.

Much of this work has been undertaken in the UK and the Netherlands, and has undoubtedly been driven by the needs of their respective evaluation systems, the Research Excellence Framework in the UK and the Standard Evaluation Protocol in the Netherlands. These tools reflect both the distinctive needs of policy-makers in these countries as well as the dynamics of science systems and the societal context. There have been various efforts to introduce these policy approaches into various Nordic contexts without a consideration of whether they fit with policy-maker needs, and the dynamics of science systems and societal contexts. In the NORSSHVALUE network, we seek to develop an understanding of the public value of social sciences and humanities research that captures the distinctiveness of Nordic societal contexts.

The main activity we will be undertaking in NORSSHVALUE is to organise three seminars in 2019 and 2020, bringing together experts in understanding and evaluating public value of research in the Nordic and wider international comparative contexts. We seek to address 6 research questions in the life of our network:

  1. How do Nordic local impact contexts vary from those in paradigmatic impact contexts?
  2. How can the societal impact of SSH research be conceptualised to better incorporate features of Nordic impact contexts with particular emphasis on the gender dimension?
  3. Are there other local impact contexts outside America, the UK and Netherlands which could meaningfully augment Nordic perspectives on SSH societal impact?
  4. How do Nordic science policy-makers seek to use the concept of SSH research impact as a distinctive tool?
  5. What expectations do Nordic civil society representative organisations have towards SSH researchers using their knowledge to create societal impact?
  6. What can non-Nordic policy-makers and science policy researchers more generally and learn from a Nordic perspective on SSH impact?

The NORSSHVALUE network is made possible by support from the Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS). NOS-HS is a cooperation between the research councils in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden responsible for research within the Humanities and Social Sciences. NOS-HS aims to enhance the exchange of information between the Nordic research councils. The committee also supports collaboration between Nordic researchers by funding Nordic exploratory workshops.