Social science research capacity in Asia

Posted in conference 


John Beaton


The Association of Asian Social Science Research Councils (AASSREC) comprises fifteenmember nations that enjoy differing degrees of social science research capacity. Somerapidly developing countries such as India and China have very large and well-funded socialscience resources, while others are developing capacity as their circumstances allow. Besidesgrossly inadequate funding, their comparative isolation from regional peers and wider-worldassociations also impedes the progress of some Asian nations in the social sciences.


For the purposes of this discussion, AASSREC and other Asia Pacific nations’ social science research capacity (which includes its impact capacity) can be regarded as the sum of the following elements:
␣ Human capital: the numbers of educated, trained and employed social scientists plus the postgraduate and undergraduate social science student population who will provide a sustained national research effort.
␣ Infrastructure and research funding: the buildings, facilities, archives and libraries, support staff and information technology that provide researchers with space and facilities. Here infrastructure includes direct or indirect financial support from governmental or other agencies.
␣ Connectivity: social science research is an important part of enhancing the public good, and research results must be made public through dissemination in publications or by other means. Connectivity also includes direct and unimpeded access to collaboration with government agencies, public institutions, industry, private individuals and organizations, international peers and professional bodies for the purpose of sharing ideas and information.


Most, but not all, Asia Pacific nations have peak asso- ciations for individual social science disciplines and collective organizations, such as social science research councils. Learned academies or discipline-based societies are numerous but not universal. A persistent problem in the region is the lack of meeting opportunities. The fifteen-member AASSREC convenes biennial conferences to promote mutuality and information exchange. These conferences reveal a commonality of social science issues, many of which focus on building harmonious societies characterized by equity, trust in institutions, meaningful employment, educational opportunities and access to health and social services. These issues are universal and there are opportunities for collaboration between Asia Pacific researchers and the developed social science institutions of Europe, the Americas and elsewhere.