Social Sciences in 2018

Tamsine O'Riordan is the Editorial Director of Social Sciences at Palgrave Macmillan.

2018 was the year where at conferences across the globe there were resounding calls for “social science for social justice” and public-facing scholarship that responds to political realities. Amidst challenges such as the banning of gender studies in Hungary and the “grievance studies” journals scandal some of the bigger themes and directions for social science research included accessibility of education, decolonizing the cannon, social implications of AI and challenges to “western” epistemologies across most disciplines. Such powerful themes call for the need for a healthy publishing environment, in books as well as journals, and it was interesting to see in Altmetric’s report of the 20 most successful books (with the highest Altmetric scores) across all of academia, the majority were defined as "studies in human society" - a reminder of the strong ties between books and social science research.

The social science editors at Palgrave Macmillan attended over 30 conferences and called at over 35 campuses around the world to discover the most cutting-edge research, signing vital new titles such as #MeToo and the Politics of Social Change, Metaphors of Brexit, The Psychology of Addiction and The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Race and Gender. We published essential new works that included Detecting the Social, Screen Society, Robot Rules and Dismantling Race in Higher Education and started a number of crucial new book series including “Education in Latin America and the Caribbean”, “Palgrave Studies in Cultural Participation”, “Feminist Interruptions and Refusals” and our market-leading “New Femininities in Digital, Sporting, Physical and Sporting Cultures”. Our developing social science major reference work programme saw the first chapters published in The Palgrave Handbook of Citizenship and Education, and the signing of new comprehensive works including The Palgrave Encyclopaedia of Renewable and Low Carbon Energy and The Palgrave Encyclopaedia of Critical Perspectives on Mental Health. 

Amongst our bestselling titles of the year were the 2018 title The Rise of Victimhood Culture, Genderqueer and Non-Binary Genders and two older titles in their second editions still continuing in their importance to readers, English: One Tongue, Many Voices , and American Higher Education. Whilst the book in print form remains crucial to the social science community digital usage vastly increased in 2018, with our most downloaded titles including The Palgrave Handbook of Social Theory in Health, Illness and Medicine, and Sustainability, Human Well-Being and the Future of Education. With new editorial presence in the region we’ve been signing a growing number of titles from Australia and New Zealand and The Palgrave Handbook of Australian and New Zealand Criminology, Crime and Justice was one of the most downloaded Palgrave Macmillan books of the year.

We seek to publish not only the most cutting-edge content but also authors who are leading in their field, whether for lifelong achievement or being at the research vanguard. Our author and book award list for 2018 is long but we were particularly proud to publish winners of prizes from the American Educational Research Association, the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology, the Australian Sociological Association, the British Sociological Association, the Canadian Communication Association, the Canadian Association of Work and Labour Studies and the British Association for Applied Linguistics.

Open access is a growing model for social science research that saw titles such as Representations of Transnational Human Trafficking, History Education and Conflict Transformation, Advancing Energy Policy, and Weather and Climate Services for the Energy Industry gathering huge impact. But the notion of “real-life” impact also includes watching the books we publish exist beyond academic circles and this year alongside scholarly press and journal reviews we saw our books and authors achieve media coverage in Psychology Today, Times Higher Education, The Economist and on BBC Radio 4, CNN, NPR and even a Netflix documentary!

Finally, our Social Science Matters campaign continues to grow and find new spaces across our communities and the globe. This year we developed further the results from our comprehensive community survey, significantly grew our blog and held a sold-out event to a lively audience of researchers, policy-makers, journalists and some elusive “interested public” on storytelling in the social sciences in our London office as part of the ESRC's Festival of Social Science.

Where our disciplines lead, we follow, so given the call to arms through 2018 we’re already into the start of an exciting 2019 where we plan to continue to develop our core programmes including a significant relaunch of our flagship series “Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship” whilst continuing our explorations into some of the newest disciplinary intersections where social science continues to play an essential role.  

For more updates on what the social science team is publishing, as well as the social science matters campaign, you can follow @PalgravePsych; @PalgraveGeoEnvi; @Palgrave_Ling; @PalgraveSoc; @PalgraveEducate; @palgravecrim; @PalgraveSTS