FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Sociologia, Antropologia, Demografia e Geografia

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Investigação em Ciências Sociais [SOC-Norte-Braga-710] visitada em 19/11/2007

Classificação: Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
While still in its infancy (founded in 2002), the CICS is already showing signs of high potential, thanks to its senior scholars as well as to its multidisciplinary team of motivated young researchers – all possessed a professional attitude. The type of research questions addressed is innovative and pertinent for the future, both from a scientific and societal perspective. Theoretically well grounded, the work done is also relevant to decision making. Moreover the unit seems to be an adequate and attractive place for young researchers to work with qualified staff on their PHD. The panel was impressed by the seriousness of the research work done and by a choice of topics testifying to intellectual creativity.
Nevertheless, given its relatively recent establishment, the CICS scientific production consists mostly of PHD dissertations or publications related thereto. The amount of contract research and studies on scientific issues sponsored by scientific foundations is relatively small but increasing. Those aspects should be strengthened together with an increased focus on scientific networks of national and international character.
The unit is composed with 4 groups.
The group «Politics, development and social inequalities» (710-365) does good research and is increasing its international publications. But it spreads itself somewhat thinly across a large field (from prostitution to racial prejudice, new technologies and judicial behaviour, and so on and so forth). Would it not be better to narrow the programme’s focus and develop a more consistently coherent framework?
The group «Family, health and solidarity» (710–1054) has grown very rapidly. It is included in international networks and is involved in several comparative projects. Most of the published output can be attributed to one impressively productive researcher and who was recently joined by a number of new PhDs. Plans for the future seem good, in an area where research can make both scientific and social contributions.
The group «Culture and life-styles» (710–1056) pursues a highly theoretical research, that sometimes makes it hard to see how it would be applied or tested. As with the group «Politics…. », it spreads itself across a large field. Hence a similar concluding recommendation: that it would be better to concentrate the programme on key issues so as to increase its conceptual credibility and its international visibility.
The group «Organizations, work and quality» (710–1057) also appears as very theoretical. Little has been published as yet in international journals.
Every group is good, with a slight advantage for the group «Politics…» and a slight disadvantage for the group «Organizations…». A general remark has to be made: many members of CICS are young researchers and until now, their main concern was with their PHD thesis. This explains the dispersal of research topics and makes the denomination of the groups appear rather artificial. The panel recommends that, in the near future, efforts should be made to concentrate on what constitutes the originality and the specificity of the unit and of each group so as to increase theoretical integration. This will further the credibility and visibility of CICS and facilitate its international integration.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Culture and life-styles [RG-SOC-Norte-Braga-710-1056]
The group «Culture and life-styles» (710–1056) pursues a highly theoretical research, that sometimes makes it hard to see how it would be applied or tested. As with the group «Politics….», it spreads itself across a large field. Hence a similar concluding recommendation: that it would be better to concentrate the programme on key issues so as to increase its conceptual credibility and its international visibility.
Family, health and solidarities [RG-SOC-Norte-Braga-710-1054]
The group «Family, health and solidarity» (710–1054) has grown very rapidly. It is included in international networks and is involved in several comparative projects. Most of the published output can be attributed to one impressively productive researcher and who was recently joined by a number of new PhDs. Plans for the future seem good, in an area where research can make both scientific and social contributions.
Organizations, work and quality [RG-SOC-Norte-Braga-710-1057]
The group «Organizations, work and quality» (710–1057) appears as very theoretical. Little has been published as yet in international journals.
Politics, development and social inequalities [RG-SOC-Norte-Braga-710-365]
The group «Politics, development and social inequalities» (710-365) does good research and is increasing its international publications. But it spreads itself somewhat thinly across a large field (from prostitution to racial prejudice, new technologies and judicial behaviour, and so on and so forth). Would it not be better to narrow the programme’s focus and develop a more consistently coherent framework?

Comentários da unidade

The comments directed to each of the groups are positive or very positive and even complimentary, namely for three of the groups. The panel points to the good quality of the research, the insertion in international networks, the growing internationalization and the participation in comparative projects.
Nevertheless, the Panel found that the scientific production of the Unit consisted in these 4 years “mostly of Ph.D. dissertations or publications related thereto”, whereas these are only a part of the overall work produced: the affinity or association with Ph.D. dissertations is found only in a small part of the publications (see CICS Activity Report 2003-2007).
Concerning the group “Politics, Development and Social Inequalities” (PDSI) and the group “Culture and Life-Styles” (CLS), the Panel sees as negative the dispersal over a wide range of themes and recommends narrowing down subjects and research programmes. Although, we maintain that the topics should be reasonably wide in their range in order to avoid being constricting of the research and to be able to fit new researchers in.
On the other hand, the criticism about the “highly” or “very” theoretical character of the research of CLS and Organizations, Work and Quality (OWQ) groups may be seen as contradictory when compared to the general comment on the Unit’s work: “Theoretically well grounded, the work done is also relevant to decision-making”. We stress, firstly, that practically all the Unit’s projects involve empirical research: indeed, as mentioned by the Panel, the Unit’s overall research is also “pertinent” in a “societal” perspective. So, how can one see theory as a strength, only for it to be considered a weakness the moment after?
Also, having analysed the reports made by panels of various other areas within social sciences, CICS expresses some perplexity given what appears to have been the adoption of different parameters and methodologies of evaluation.
In conclusion, taking into account the very positive impression of the Unit formed by the Evaluation Panel, the arguments we have put forward (mostly those concerning the groups on CLS and on OWQ) and the importance of the already achieved scientific networking, CICS asks for the reanalysis of its classification, honestly believing that it should be upgraded to a “Very Good” rank.