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Social impact

Europe must fund social sciences

The peer-reviewed Social Impact Open Repository (SIOR) was launched by the European Commission earlier this year to evaluate the social benefits of research ( Its success is an argument against the commission's plans to eliminate the social sciences and humanities component from its Horizon 2020 research-funding programme.

Contributors of evidence of social impact to SIOR include the Informal Economy Monitoring Study of the WIEGO project (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing) based at Harvard University in Massachusetts. The project has helped women to organize labour, gain recognition and defend their rights in ten cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America (see Spain's Atapuerca project has enhanced economic growth and cultural development in the region where the first human bones were discovered (see E. Carbonell et al. Nature 452, 465–469; 2008). And the ALACs project, which promotes citizenship through its Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres, has helped citizens to tackle corruption in the Balkan and Caucasus areas (see

The open repository scores research on metrics such as social improvement, transferability to diverse populations or social contexts, and sustainability. SIOR data are also used to back research proposals.

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Correspondence to Marta Soler-Gallart.

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Flecha, R., Soler-Gallart, M. & Sordé, T. Europe must fund social sciences. Nature 528, 193 (2015).

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