Established in 1985, CIES-ISCTE is a university research centre associated to ISCTE-IUL (Lisbon University Institute) and accredited by the FCT.
It is supported by the Multi-annual Funding Program for R&D Units, sponsored by FCT. In 2008, it was subjected by FCT to external evaluation by an international scientific panel and, as in earlier periodic evaluations, was classified as "excellent".
CIES main focus is on projects of fundamental research in sociology, political science, education studies, communication studies and urban anthropology. Most of these projects are funded through open calls with scientific evaluation promoted by national and European agencies/foundations.
The projects are grouped into 5 lines of research and an intercontinental research programme, which are more thematic lines than organisational ones. Many researchers carry out research in more than one of the lines.
CIES' management bodies consist of a Board of Directors, the Scientific Committee, the Supervisory Committee and the General Assembly. The Centre also has an external Scientific Advisory Committee made up of 5 Portuguese and foreign well-known researchers.
CIES-ISCTE publishes since 1986 a scientific journal – Sociologia, Problemas e Práticas – directed by a senior researcher with support of an Editorial Committee and an International Editing Committee.
The support structures of the Centre include the Financial and Administrative Department, the Communication and Planning Office and the journal's editorial secretariat, including a total of 5 staff members.
The centre is affiliated with the European Consortium for Sociological Research (ECRS) and the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR).