SSRC Gets $3 Million to Study Research Methods

Ira Katnelson
Ira Katznelson, president of the New York-based Social Science Research Council
The founder of the academic publisher SAGE has given the Social Science Research Council $3 million from her own pocket to advance and improve research methods in the social sciences. The endowment has been named The SAGE Fund for Research Methods.

Kenneth Prewitt, a former Social Science Research Council president and now professor of public affairs at Columbia University, accepted the gift during a 50th anniversary celebration for SAGE held in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. In his remarks, Prewitt noted SAGE’s long history of advancing research methodology, stating that “the field of research was utterly changed 50 years ago when 24-year-old Sara Miller McCune decided to launch her own publishing house, forming SAGE as a unique space for scholars to disseminate quality research in their own voices.” (SAGE is the parent of Social Science Space, while the SSRC is a partner of the website.)

SAGE has been publishing journals focused on the practice of social science since the early 1970s. In 1976, it launched the enormously influential Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences series, popularly known as “the little green books,” which helped to train an entire generation of scientists in statistical techniques for the analysis of social data, and then followed that series up with the companion “little blue books,” covering qualitative approaches. Since then, SAGE has led in the production of tools of applied social science research (especially program evaluation) and more recently in mixed-methods research.

Miller McCune, meanwhile, has established herself as an active and enthusiastic philanthropist. Some large gifts have gone to the American Academy of Political and Social Science and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, also both Social Science Space partners. Many of her gifts have supported the arts, social justice and her hometown of Santa Barbara, California.

Ira Katznelson, the president of the SSRC, detailed how the gift will immediately benefit the council and ultimately benefit the public at large. “Ranging across the span of qualitative and quantitative, and observational and experimental methods, the Fund will seek to improve and deepen existing methods, help embark on new possibilities, especially those made possible by the digital revolution, and invent new tools to advance the disciplined curiosity of the social sciences.

“The creation of a SAGE Fund devoted to methodology strongly advances one of the core purposes of the Social Science Research Council, that of deepening the craft by pioneering ways to inquire,” he said. “This act of generosity resonates with and reinforces that ambition, and, so doing, helps build a stronger social science that can be deployed in the public interest.

“We are very grateful,” Katznelson added.

The SSRC is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 1923. It fosters innovative research, nurtures new generations of social scientists around the world, deepens how inquiry is practiced within and across disciplines, and mobilizes necessary knowledge on important public issues.

“In our 50 years of social science publishing, at SAGE, we have witnessed how the need for innovative methodology is ongoing and how it is crucial to the production of new knowledge,” commented Miller McCune. “The SSRC is a unique organization with the capacity to convene the brightest minds across disciplines and institutions. Our gift will ensure that it continues its history of developing the highest-quality tools for the production of the highest-quality knowledge.”

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