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Human Sciences Research Council
History and Background

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) of South Africa is a statutory body, established in 1968. It supports development nationally, in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and in Africa. It primarily conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific projects for public-sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies, in partnership with researchers globally, but specifically in Africa.

The HSRC aligns its research activities and structures to South Africa''''s national development priorities: notably poverty reduction through economic development, skills enhancement, job creation, the elimination of discrimination and inequalities, and effective service delivery.

The HSRC also seeks to contribute to the research and development strategy of the HSRC''''s parent Department of Science and Technology, especially through its mission to focus on the contribution of science and technology in addressing poverty.
As of August 2005, the HSRC entered a next phase of strategic realignment to support its role as ''''knowledge hub'''', intended to help bridge the gap between research, policy and action; thus increasing the impact of research. This will be achieved through collaboration with key constituencies, including government, other research organisations, multinational agencies, universities, non-government organisations and donor organisations. Research programmes in the organisation have been consolidated and strengthened to achieve greater levels of synergy, efficiency, and collaboration. The establishment of a Policy Analysis Unit, intended to create the infrastructure for the best minds in the country to collectively address research issues of national importance, serves as one example of the HSRC''''s commitment to serve the needs of the country in an integrated and structured way.

With its research complement of about 165 researchers, 63 technical staff and 128 support staff in five different centres, the HSRC is well equipped to respond flexibly and comprehensively to these current and emerging needs. Its six multi-disciplinary research programmes and five cross-cutting research units, focused on user needs, are spread across three centres in different parts of South Africa.

The HSRC strives to strike a balance between the undertaking of contract and commissioned research for users on the one hand, and of more fundamental enquiry on the other. It recognises that if its research is to make a significant difference to aspects of national life, it must be responsive to the needs of users and relevant to topical social issues, while at the same time advancing a theoretically informed understanding of society in all its aspects.

The outputs of its research projects include reports for users, occasional papers, and scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals or books. These are disseminated in print through an online bookshop and electronically (that is, for free download).

HSRC Press is South Africa''''s open access publisher committed to the dissemination of high quality social science research based publications, in print and electronic form. The Press publishes the research output of the HSRC and externally authored works. A formal peer-review process guarantees the highest academic quality and the Press has a very active local and international marketing programme, in addition to collaborating with foreign publishers on specific titles. 

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