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Exploring the scope of science advice: social sciences in the UK government

Cooper, ACG; (2016) Exploring the scope of science advice: social sciences in the UK government. Palgrave Communications , 2 , Article 16044. 10.1057/palcomms.2016.44. Green open access

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Abstract

Science advice is normally seen in the context of physical science advice, and in particular in relation to the institutional position of “Chief Scientific Advisor” (CSA). This is true for the academic literature covering the science-policy interface, public administration, science and technology studies as well as most practitioner commentary. Very little literature exists on the provision of social science advice for public policy, insofar as this is framed in terms of individuals providing expertise within an institutional setting and role, as opposed to the provision of (social science) evidence within “evidence-based policy-making” or similar. This focus on the science advice has thus shaped the understanding of what a science advisor does, and what skills and expertise they are providing. Conventionally, this comprises an emphasis on significant knowledge in an area of expertise, a level of seniority and “eminence” to enable that knowledge to be influential and a degree of independence from those tasked with making policy decisions. Social science advice exists in the UK national policy-making context, but the mode of operation places a different emphasis and role on those providing such advice. I explore the nature of this role, using the conventional idea of the CSA as a point of departure to foreground points of similarity and difference. This exploration reveals a broader operating space for science advice than is conventionally understood and foregrounds particular tensions between relevance and influence, on the one hand, and scientific objectivity and independence, on the other. This article is published as part of a thematic collection dedicated to scientific advice to governments.

Type: Article
Title: Exploring the scope of science advice: social sciences in the UK government
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1057/palcomms.2016.44
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palcomms.2016.44
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > STEaPP
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1503823
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