16 October 2012

Rise of social sciences in Mistra’s initiatives

An ever rising proportion of Mistra’s portfolio consists of research with a social science focus. This is clear from a summary of Mistra’s research initiatives since their inception.

Since 1995, Mistra has funded 49 research programmes. Of the 33 completed to date, most have focused on natural sciences or technology. In these programmes, social science research made up only about 15% of the total. Since then, the share of social sciences in Mistra’s portfolio has been increasing — and the trend persists.

In the 16 programmes now under way, the proportion of social science research has risen to over 30%. If this trend continues, the share will rise even further by 2016.

‘Taking into account all the initiatives that are planned but on which decisions have not yet been taken, we expect more than 40% of the research we fund in 2016 to have a social science focus,’ says Fredrik Gunnarsson, Head of Administration at Mistra.

SLU the largest recipient

Altogether, Mistra has awarded funding of just over SEK 3.2 billion since 1995. The largest amount, SEK 592 million, has gone to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). SLU’s share of Mistra’s total funding advanced to higher education institutions (HEIs) has declined in the past few years and this, Gunnarsson relates, is due to the growing focus on social sciences. Nevertheless, SLU is still the single HEI that received most funds from Mistra in the period 2005–12.

An extensive evaluation of Mistra’s research is currently under way. Sweco Eurofutures has been commissioned to study the impact of all Mistra’s completed programmes. One objective is to see how well Mistra’s Statutes have been complied with. Another is to identify the factors promoting and impeding success in Mistra’s work procedures, with a view to developing its activities. The evaluation will be a key document in the forthcoming work on drafting the strategic plan that is to shape Mistra’s work from 2015 to 2020.

A questionnaire survey, forming part of the above-mentioned evaluation, was completed recently. The respondents were some 700 people who have been involved in the research programmes, including programme directors, board members and users.

In March 2013, Sweco Eurofutures will present its final report.

Henrik Lundström, Vetenskapsjournalisterna

Mistra Webbredaktör