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Social sciences and humanities – an added value for your project


For decades, European research was primarily based on the expertise of researchers specialised in life and physical sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Now, the new Horizon 2020 policy looks further – it is based on a premise that integration of social sciences and humanities (SSH) aspects into European research projects are indispensable to generate new knowledge and innovation.

SSH encompasses various disciplines – from sociology, psychology, communication and political science to economics, history, culture, law, and ethics. It is evident that the knowledge for solving different societal challenges, including those related to the ICT field, is spread across STEM and SSH disciplines. SSH integration in Horizon 2020 projects can yield innovative solutions and products that are socially acceptable, directly applicable, marketable and cost-effective. In addition, SSH integration can substantially enhance the impact of the project and support effective dissemination of results and communication with the target group and the wider public.

What does SSH integration mean in practice?

SSH experts contribute to framing Horizon 2020 topics and, consequently, the SSH aspects determined by them must be adequately addressed in Horizon 2020 proposals. In addition, evaluation panels include SSH expertise and the evaluators are trained on how to identify and evaluate SSH aspects. Given the above, inclusion of SSH expertise in project proposals can substantially increase evaluation scores and consequently raise a chance for a grant.

Do all Horizon 2020 projects require SSH integration?

The topics that require SSH integration are called “flagged for SSH” topics. There are two types of them:

Topics dedicated to SSH research: issues are framed mainly from the SSH perspective and most project partners come from SSH disciplines;

Topics with significant SSH component: SSH expertise is an integral, though not exclusive, part of the research design of topics, and solutions to the problem are to be generated by integrating knowledge stemming from both SSH disciplines and non-SSH disciplines such as natural sciences, medicine, engineering and technology

Which topics in 2017 Work Programme for ICT require SSH integration?

Topics dedicated to SSH research: none

Topics with significant SSH component

ICT-11-2017 Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation

ICT-23-2017 Interfaces for accessibility

ICT-28-2017 Robotics Competition, coordination and support

ICT-39-2016-2017 International partnership building in low and middle income countries

In order to see in detail which are the specific SSH aspects included in the above-mentioned topics, please see a document entitled ‘Opportunities for Researchers from the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in Horizon 2020’, available at:

Where in the proposal should SSH aspects be included?

SSH aspects should be included in all three parts of a Horizon 2020 proposal, i.e. Excellence, Impact, and Implementation, as required by the evaluation criteria.

What do SSH aspects include?

In general, SSH aspects refer to the expertise in the following fields:

  •  Behavioral aspects,
  •  Consumption and lifestyles,
  •  Management, governance,
  •  Public awareness & acceptance,
  •  Policy support / assessment,
  •  Social innovation,
  •  Markets, business development,
  •  Economic systems and instruments.

With a specific regard to the ICT theme, SSH involves matters such as user behaviour and acceptance, management and governance issues, risk assessment and management, development of business models, etc.

For more detailed information about SSH aspects in ICT, please see the document entitled ‘Report on the Integration of Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in Horizon 2020’, available at:

More information

For more information about SSH integration in Horizon 2020 projects you can visit the website of Net4Society(the international network of National Contact Points for the Societal Challenge 6 "Europe in a changing world: inclusive, innovative and reflective societies"), available at: The website contains numerous documents and publications on SSH integration.

You can also contact your National Contact Point (NCP) for Societal Challenge 6. Information about the relevant NCPs is available at: