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Frequently asked questions relating to the new approach in SSH

General Questions

Project Preparation


Evaluation and Monitoring

General Questions

What is the difference between problem-oriented research and societal challenge approach?

Within the EU Framework Programmes, research on Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities has always followed a problem-oriented approach. What is distinctive for the new approach based on Societal Challenges is its comprehensiveness in addressing a Challenge.
Tackling societal challenges requires a genuine multidisciplinary approach and will comprise such elements like stock-taking, European-wide comparative studies, the identification of forward-looking elements (e.g. identification of trends on macro-level), dissemination and exploitation of research results, and support to the development of an effective critical mass of actors, involving a wide range of stakeholders.
Furthermore it is one of the central elements within the new approach to stimulate a bottom-up way the definition of relevant research issues to be addressed within a societal challenge. For comprehensively addressing the Challenges proposers are therefore encouraged to define additional research aspects that go beyond the research issues identified in the Work Programme.

How do you encourage multi- and interdisciplinarity within SSH-research?

The comprehensiveness of the defined Societal Challenges themselves makes it highly unlikely that they can be tackled by a single discipline and approach. The European Commission will support these ambitions by setting up an evaluation process that respects the various aspects and expertise to be covered when addressing a Challenge.

How do you prevent "old-boy networks" / "frequent flyers" dominating large-scale projects?

It is the prime objective of the European Commission to support projects of high scientific quality paired with competent project management that are most likely to achieve excellent results.
The external peer review system should serve to identify the most capable teams addressing the challenges as a whole, regardless of their previous individual history in the Framework Programme. The European Commission will support the efforts of all NCPs as well as the NCP network project to inform a wide research community on the new approach and its implications and enhance the partner search tools.

What are the expectations with regard to dissemination?

Should the projects explore new avenues or stick to traditional methods?

Dissemination of project results refers to a number of different activities that range from publishing in scientific journals, making project data available to informing decision-makers or engaging with the interested public.
It will be the task of the proposers to identify the best suitable tools and methods in relation to the different specific aims and target-groups of these activities. The European Commission welcomes any innovative solutions that support these efforts, in particular two-way communications approach. For further information please see: and

Will there be a change in the evaluation criteria?

NO. The evaluation criteria will not be changed.
Please note however that for 2010 call specific eligibility criteria apply, i.e.: the minimum required EU-contribution of 6,500,000 Euros and the minimum number of seven partners coming from seven different countries. Please also note that the Commission will consider a possibility of inviting expert evaluators with project management background to sit in the evaluation panels in order to be able to better assess the proposals from the point of view of project management.

What will happen with the results of the large projects - will they continue in FP8?

Dissemination to scientific and non-scientific user groups will be a central part of the work for the large-scale projects and the Open Access Policy to the results will be something the European Commission will try to endorse in order to make project results widely available.
A continuation of individual projects beyond their contract duration (continuation in FP8) is not intended.

The Challenges mean longer project time but does this mean that there will be fewer calls during FP7?

It is envisaged that Calls will take place each year 2010, 2011 and 2012. However, due to the size and nature of the Challenges (Funding scheme: Collaborative projects - large scale integrating research projects) the number of themes that will be defined per Activity and year will be adapted accordingly.

Does the European Commission have an ambition to enhance the participation of International Co-operation Partner Countries (like for example Mexico) in FP7 Programmes?

The European Commission is actively seeking to integrate researchers and expertise from around the world through active use of the "Collaborative Projects for specific cooperation actions (SICA)" dedicated to international cooperation partner countries (e.g. the 2009 Work Programme focused on international thematic cooperation in the areas "Cities and sustainable development" and "Climate induced changes in water resources in southern Europe and neighbouring countries as a security threat", while the 2010 Work Programme includes topics focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean countries as well as India and China. For 2011 Africa is envisaged as a focus area and 2012/2013 a SICA with Caucasus/Central Asia is foreseen.)