Over the years, through its research in social work, social sciences, human resources management, health systems and allied fields, the TISS has made consistent contributions to civil society and the development sector and helped shape planning, policy and programme formulation, foster critical rethinking and development of people-centred interventions. The role of academic institutions like TISS in conducting pioneering research and extension activities rooted in the context of societal realities, and aimed at influencing policy and practice for positive social change, is widely acknowledged.

Over the years, the research work carried out at the TISS has been increasingly used for capacity building, field action, academics and policy advocacy on a spectrum of social, economic and environmental issues. During 2014–2015, there were a total of 218 ongoing research and documentation projects at the Institute. Of these, 12 research projects were in multi-disciplinary areas, while the remaining were anchored in various Schools/Centres. The continuing areas of research include children and youth; climate change; community development; corporate social responsibility; dalits and tribals; disaster management; education; food security; governance; human rights; labour and migration; mental health; natural resources management; rural development; urban issues; and women and gender.

Research studies conducted at the Institute also result in numerous reports, publications and books. These publications become public domain documents that are easily accessible and widely disseminated and used by a cross-section of people and agencies for research purposes or policy advocacy. In 2014–2015, the TISS faculty published 303 publications as peer reviewed journal articles in some of the most renowned journals; chapters in books; authored/edited volumes published by reputed publishers and other writings that include book reviews, articles in newspapers, magazines and reports.