Are STEM from Mars and SSH from Venus? A comparison of research and transfer activities in the hard and soft disciplines

De 09/05/2012 hasta 11/05/2012
INTERACT‐UNI EU‐SPRI Conference 2012
There is a reasonable consensus within the innovation community that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research is more ‘usable’ than other kinds of research notably social sciences, humanities and arts (SSHA). This assumption has been accepted by a much wider set of communities outside the innovation community, such as those in science and higher education policy. Our paper starts from the position that this assumption is at least questionable; and we ask whether there has been a policy failure that contributes to the now widespread belief of the natural superiority of STEM over SSHA disciplines. Therefore, from a theoretical reading of the discussion around SSHA research, we identify a number of stylized facts that might account for – from the perspective of the existing theory – why this systematic disadvantage and bias afflicts SSHA. We elaborate a taxonomy of the claims and we propose a number of hypotheses that we test with a database corresponding to 1,583 researchers from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Results indicate that SSH and STEM researchers have different patterns of research, transfer and diffusion activities. However, these differences do not mean that SSHA research is less useful than STEM research. A review of this assumption is required to restore the balance between the SSHA and STEM contribution to society.
Enschede, the Netherlands
Olmos-Peñuela, J.; Benneworth, P.; Castro-Martínez, E.