About social research

Social research aims to provide high quality research-based evidence and advice for Ministers and Scottish Government officials to inform policy development and implementation.

Social Researchers support the development, implementation and evaluation of the Scottish Government's policies.

Social researchers help generate new ideas and open debate, challenge assumptions, beliefs and attitudes, test policy ideas and develop a deeper understanding of issues affecting Scotland.

Their core functions include:

  • understanding the factors which motivate and constrain the behaviour and practices of individuals and organisations in society
  • reviewing, interpreting and synthesising evidence, and providing research based advice
  • robust policy evaluation, identifying what works for whom and why
  • estimating the distributional and equalities impacts of policies
  • monitoring social trends to identify future challenges and priorities
  • working with other analysts to ensure the social and cultural impacts of policies are assessed and integrated into decision-making
  • engaging with the academic and wider research community to bring expert knowledge into the policy making process
  • advising government on social research methods and research ethics
  • commissioning external research projects
  • disseminating research findings and encouraging their wider use

Social researchers work closely with other analysts in the Government including statisticians, economists and operational researchers, and across all areas of Scottish Government responsibility including Education, Justice, Health and Social Care, Social Security, Environment and Climate Change, Economy, Equality, Transport, Communities and Local Government, and Culture and External Affairs.

The Chief Researcher is head of profession for all social researchers in the Scottish Government, and also leads the Office of the Chief Researcher which provides a strategic, corporate and professional support function.


The Office of the Chief Researcher can be contacted at socialresearch@gov.scot

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