Faculty of Social Sciences

Several elite research groups in social sciences evaluation

On 19 June 2018, the Research Council of Norway's evaluation of the social sciences in Norway – SAMEVAL – was presented. One department and three research groups at the University of Bergen are awarded top grades in the evaluation.

Feltfoto som viser bredden i forskningen ved Institutt for sosialantropologi ved Universitetet i Bergen (UiB).
DIVERSITY IN RESEARCH: Field photos from the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen (UiB), which was recently ranked outstanding in the Research Council of Norway's evaluation of the social sciences in Norway.

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The Research Council of Norway has now presented its comprehensive evaluation of the social sciences in Norway, SAMEVAL. Six disciplines and several research groups were evaluated and the University of Bergen (UiB) makes a strong showing in most parts of the evaluation. The Department of Social Anthropology was awarded the top grade 5. This confirms a number of international rankings where UiB's anthropologists have been ranked in the world elite.

“I am delighted that our Department of Social Anthropology is ranked as world-leading in this comprehensive evaluation of the social sciences in Norway," says Dean Jan Erik Askildsen at the Faculty of Social Sciences, pointing out that the anthropology discipline has been strong in Bergen for half a century: “Ever since Fredrik Barth established the Department, anthropology in Bergen has been a world-leading research environment.”

Good feedback through SAMEVAL

Head of Department Ståle Knudsen at the Department of Social Anthropology agrees with Dean Askildsen.

“Being active in the international research arena is not something we reflect on whether we will do or not. We don't have any strategies for this because we are already out there. It is quite natural for us to be internationally oriented and publish in acclaimed journals,” Knudsen says adding:

“Of course, this evaluation is great news and something we can show both institutionally and to our international partners. Also, our Department has since long recruited widely internationally.”

Through SAMEVAL the head of Department believes that the Research Council has conducted a thorough evaluation of the social science disciplines.

“An overall important message from the report is to commit fully to the academic disciplines at the centre of our work. The report sends a signal to our authorities to provide proper resources for discipline-oriented basic research,” says Knudsen.

“The expert panels have done a good job and we should take what they report seriously in terms of both criticism and praise. I hope the report can be a good tool for prioritizing research in Norway in future.”

Three research groups get top grade

In addition to the Department of Social Anthropology, three research groups also receive the top grade 5 from the expert panels. This includes the pioneering project Egalitarianism: Forms, Processes, Comparisons at the Department of Social Anthropology.

“Global societal challenges is a priority area for UiB, and this includes comprehensive research into inequality in several disciplines. It is good to see that our Department of Social Anthropology and its research group Egalitarianism are ranked as outstanding in the Research Council's evaluation of social sciences,” says Dean Jan Erik Askildsen.

Egalitarianism is headed by Professor Bruce Kapferer. In 2013 he was awarded an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). The project officially launched in June 2014 and concludes in June 2019.

Diversity in breadth

Dean Askildsen is excited to see that three highly different research groups are awarded top marks in the SAMEVAL evaluation. This serves to underline the breadth of quality at UiB. In addition to Egalitarianism the groups to get grade 5 are Citizens, Opinion, Representation and Elections at the Department of Comparative Politics and Labour, Social Insurance and Family at the Department of Economics.

“To see that UiB can offer three world-class research groups in the social science, within such diverse disciplines as anthropology, political science and economics is incredibly inspiring,” says the Dean.

Long-term effort pays off

All the top-graded research groups are the result of a long-term commitment to build quality in the social sciences at the University of Bergen.

“The evaluation of the social sciences in Norway shows that a long-term effort pays off. All these three research groups build on longstanding traditions at our university, within respectively anthropology, economics and political science,” says Askildsen.

“Our research groups reported on a period of publications that predates the funding of the projects themselves. For example, Egalitarianism can trace its roots back to the project CHATS, with broad participation from researchers at the Department. The ERC Advanced Grant is simply the icing on the cake and the result of a research process that has been ongoing for at least 15 years,” says Head of Department Knudsen, who wants to underline the longevity needed to establish world-leading basic research. “This is a long trajectory, which includes both the ERC-project and other of Bruce Kapferer's activities.”

Elaborating on this, Askildsen points to the interdisciplinary success of another of the top-graded research groups: Citizens, Opinion, Representation and Elections, which includes DIGSSCORE/Norwegian Citizen Panel. Another long-term commitment and a pioneering project in building digital infrastructure in and for the social sciences – and beyond.

“We have focussed on infrastructure and digitization in the social sciences. This makes me particularly pleased to see this research group get the top grade as part of the Research Council of Norway's comprehensive evaluation of the social sciences,” says Dean Jan Erik Askildsen.