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Title: 'Relevant' social science the case of global environmental change research in UK universities
Author: Scott, A. H.
ISNI:       0000 0001 2437 9877
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2012
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Recent science policy has stressed the need for academic research to be 'relevant' to the needs of society. Greatest emphasis has been placed on research that supports wealth creation, but other goals such as supporting the quality of life and the effectiveness of public policy have also been highlighted. University research is increasingly seen as a key resource in addressing challenges such as global environmental change. Connected to these developments in science policy, academic commentators have suggested that a new 'mode' of research is emerging - research conducted 'in the context of application'. However, there are significant questions over whether the current organisation of research in the university sector can facilitate this 'relevant' mode of research. This thesis investigates the tensions around the conduct of socially relevant research in British universities. It puts forward a novel conceptual framework for investigating the factors affecting the conduct of relevant research, arguing that researchers are influenced by five factors: academic disciplines, research institutions, research funding sources, personal motivations, and wider policy 'discourses'. The thesis analyses the pressures towards relevant research and the characteristics of such research, which tends to be inter-disciplinary, problem-centred and interactive. The thesis details how the factors identified in the conceptual framework affected the work of a group of social scientists involved in global environmental change research during the 1990s. The thesis demonstrates that 'relevant' research may bring not only a range of benefits but also certain potential 'hazards' to researchers conducting relevant research. There are therefore significant tensions around its implementation, tensions that the thesis suggests can be traced to the institutionalisation of academic research in universities. These tensions have significant implications for the implementation of relevant research in universities
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available