Important paper linked below from Gary King, head of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University.
Restructuring the Social Sciences: Reflections from Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science*
April 15, 2013
The social sciences are undergoing a dramatic transformation from studying problems to solving them; from making due with a small number of sparse data sets to analyzing increasing quantities of diverse, highly informative data; from isolated scholars toiling away on their own to larger scale, collaborative, interdisciplinary, labstyle research teams; and from a purely academic pursuit focused inward to having a major impact on public policy, commerce and industry, other academic fields, and some of the major problems that affect people and groups. In the midst of all this productive chaos, we have been building the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard, a new type of center intended to respond to and help foster these broader developments. We offer here some suggestions from our experiences for the increasing number of other universities that have begun to build similar institutions and for how we might work together to advance social science more generally.