The research programme at ISSER has two components, namely commissioned research and own research. In addition, ISSER provides significant consultancy and advocacy support to government agencies, development partners and the private sector. ISSER research outputs are generally expected to be driven by observed development problems and needs of Ghana and other developing countries.

Research undertaken by ISSER is usually in response to the direct demands of government and other stakehoders for information and strategies for improving the well-being of people. At the same time, research by ISSER seeks to maintain a focus on the academic purpose of the institute by adding to existing knowledge about society and development.