The activities of ISE include consultation of the scientific community, organization of open conferences and the preparation of statements on European science policy issues.

Since its inception, ISE has organised numerous meetings for stakeholders and sessions on topics ranging from Frontier Research and the European Research Council to Research Infrastructures; for that purpose it has worked with eminent partners, notably UNESCO. ISE also contributed to the programme of Presidency conferences such as the European Conference on Research Infrastructures (ECRI2010).

ISE aims to provide advice and expert insight to policy makers and European bodies and campaign for necessary change in the organisation and planning of research in Europe. Effective means for that aim include commentaries and letters to the editor of the major journals of the scientific and policy community such as Science, Nature and ResearchEurope. Most notably, ISE managed to create a momentum of change with a series of letters to the editor on the establishment of the European Research Council which have been supported by over 50 scientific organisations.