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Maintaining the vitality of social science research at Stanford

Founded  in  2004,  Stanford’s  Institute  for  Research  in  the  Social  Sciences  (IRiSS)  seeks  to  assure Stanford’s national  and  international  leadership  role  in social  science  research.   The Institute’s  aim  is to  ensure that  Stanford  social  scientists  produce  high-quality, impactful research, and that the Stanford continues to rank among the foremost research institutions for anthropology, communication, economics, political science, psychology, sociology, and interdisciplinary research for the social sciences.  President Tessier-Lavigne has identified that maintaining  the  strength  of  the  social sciences  is  a  key  component  of  Stanford’s  strategic vision. IRiSS is well-positioned to lead that charge in a new era of Stanford excellence.

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Your gift of any size is an important investment that supports the Institute’s highest priorities, which include: 


  • COVID-19 research Gifts to the director’s discretionary fund provide IRiSS with the flexibility to respond to new ideas and needs that arise every year in the rapidly changing disciplines of anthropology, communication, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology. A current priority is studies of societal responses to COVID-19, have the potential to increase our understanding of human behavior during crises, and which inform policy prescriptions. 
  • Seed grants allow faculty to pursue high-risk, high-reward research projects. IRiSS funds early-stage research ventures that have the potential for growth into impactful, large-scale projects, but require seed capital to produce the proof-of-concept necessary to apply for grants and other extra-departmental funding. The seed grant program brings the bold, innovative research-designs of faculty from ideas to fruition. 

  • Restricted data for Stanford researchers In partnership with the U.S. Census  Bureau, IRiSS hosts one of 31 Federal Statistical Research Data Centers in the nation, providing social scientists access to restricted data from federal agencies and departments. IRiSS provides this valuable data access to scholars across Stanford University, which can dramatically enlarge the scope of questions researchers can tackle, and in turn, expand the pool of evidence-based research available to policymakers.  Demand for data access has increased dramatically across the entire University, but the cost of data is an obstacle for researchers from certain department.

For more information about new ventures at the Stanford Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, contact cthomsen [at] (Chris Thomsen), Executive Director, at (650) 736-7569