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From products to processes: How social sciences and humanities research makes its way beyond academia?

Tampere University

The study looks at the ways in which social sciences and humanities research engage with society by studying the mechanisms leading to (potential) impact. The first phase of the study provides also context for understanding the stimuli and challenges of impact generation from the researchers view. In the second phase of the project the question of challenges and support of impact generation is viewed from the faculty level by interviewing deans of SSH faculties. Deans are chosen as interviewees because of their (intermediary) position in between researchers and university top management. They are the ones who have to deal with the tensions between science policy aims and the mundane practices of researchers.


The study addresses the dilemma of technological and natural fields being the driving force in understanding research impact in society. This causes problems especially for social sciences and humanities whose value in society is not translated as easily as causal relationships or estimates of economic profits. The study looks at the ways in which social sciences and humanities research engage with society. In my study I claim that societal engagement of these fields is rather overwhelming than scarce. However, if the value of scientific research is understood narrowly from the point of view of economic growth, the vast majority of uses of research remains unknown. The data consists of interviews of sociologists, philosophers and historians working in Finnish universities. Through interviewing also deans of faculties, the study tackles the question of how university practices support  or could support better  the impact practices of social sciences and humanities.

Funding source

Academy of Finland

Contact persons

Reetta Muhonen

Academy of Finland postdoctoral researcher, P.I.

reetta.muhonen [at]

+358 50 318 6156