Results of the Inaugural Social Science Research Thematic Grant Call 2016

Published Date: 27 April 2017 12:00 AM

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1. As Singapore progresses and matures as a nation, the social sciences and humanities become increasingly important to better understand the issues affecting our society, such as ageing, social mobility, cultural diversity, quality of life, and the regional and global challenges that impact us. Social science and humanities research helps to generate new knowledge, important insights, and practical applications to enable Singapore to navigate a fast-changing and more complex world.

2. The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) was set up in January 2016 to provide concerted direction and support in developing talent and strengthening social science and humanities research here. The Social Science Research Thematic Grant (SSRTG) is one of the SSRC’s key initiatives to support such high-quality and impactful inter-disciplinary research pertaining to Singapore and the broader Asian region. The SSRTG is the first major grant programme dedicated to supporting social science and humanities research in Singapore.

3. The inaugural SSRTG call was launched in 2016 to support research in:

  1. Identities, Social Integration and Resilience;
  2. Human Development and Skills; and
  3. Growth, Productivity and Innovation.

4. The SSRC selected 12 projects with a total funding of $21 million for the 2016 SSRTG call. The projects were selected on the basis of intellectual merit and their potential impact on and contribution to society and the economy. They cover a range of issues, such as the ageing population, early childhood development, low-income families, social integration, productivity and innovation, religion, and environmental issues. The synopses of the supported projects are in Annex A.

5. Distinguished Professor Ivan Png, from the Departments of Strategy & Policy and Economics at the National University of Singapore (NUS) – whose research on service productivity and innovation is one of the 12 selected projects – said that his research would help bring about “higher productivity, better service, and happier workers” in Singapore. Associate Professor Esther Goh from the Department of Social Work, NUS, whose research on positive adaptive pathways in low-income families in Singapore was also selected, said: “Social science and humanities research can enrich understanding of the impact of our social policies and programmes from a client-centric perspective, which in turn can inform refinements in policies and programmes”.

6. In the 2016 SSRTG call, a total of 70 proposals were received from seven institutions, namely, NUS, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), and ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

7. Chairman of the SSRC, Mr Peter Ho, said: “The Council was greatly heartened by the strong response of the academic community to the first grant call. The number of submissions exceeded all our expectations, but we were also impressed by the quality of the proposals. It is a very good start, and a firm platform to launch the second grant call. I hope that in the next few years, we will be able to build a strong social science research eco-system in Singapore, which can then play a significant role in helping to understand and address the big societal challenges ahead”.


8. The SSRC will launch the 2017 SSRTG call for proposals from 8 May 2017 to 28 July 2017. The 2017 grant call will support research under four broad themes:

  1. Identities, Social Integration and Resilience;
  2. Human Development and Skills;
  3. Growth, Productivity and Innovation; and
  4. Understanding Society in the Digital Age.

9. A fourth research theme on “Understanding Society in the Digital Age” was added in recognition of the significance and impact of new digital technologies and media on our lives and society, and the potential for deeper study in this area.

10. SSRTG provides two tiers of funding for supported projects:

  • Type A : $100,000 to $1 million for up to 3 years; supports smaller-scale research, and encourages broad-based participation in research in areas of strategic relevance; and

  • Type B : >$1 million to $10 million over 3 to 5 years; supports larger-scale research, and encourages research institutes to collaborate to pursue more ambitious, inter-disciplinary research on issues of cross-cutting interest.

Details on the evaluation criteria are in Annex B.

11. Interested applicants can approach the research offices at their respective universities and eligible research institutes to obtain more details and to submit their applications.

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