The Methodologists: a Unique Category of Scientific Actors

Nicole C. Nelson

Abstract


This essay introduces a new analytical category of scientific actors: the methodologists. These actors are distinguished by their tendency to continue to probing scientific objects that their peers consider to be settled. The methodologists are a useful category of actors for science and technology studies (STS) scholars to follow because they reveal contingencies and uncertainties in taken-for-granted science. Identifying methodologists is useful for STS analysts seeking a way into science in moments when it is no longer “in the making” or there is little active controversy. Studying methodologists is also useful for scholars seeking to understand the genesis of scientific controversies, particularly controversies about long-established methods, facts, or premises.


Keywords


STS methods; controversy studies; laboratory studies; reproducibility

Full Text:

PDF

References


Barrett, Lisa Feldman. 2015. “Psychology Is Not in Crisis.” New York Times, September 1, 2015, sec. Opinion.

Casper, Monica J., and Adele E. Clarke. 1998. “Making the Pap Smear into the ‘Right Tool’ for the Job: Cervical Cancer Screening in the USA, circa 1940-95.” Social Studies of Science 28 (2): 255–90. https://doi.org/10.1177/030631298028002003.

Clarke, Adele E., and Susan Leigh Star. 2008. “The Social Worlds Framework: A Theory/Methods Package.” In The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, edited by Edward Hackett, Olga Amsterdamska, Michael Lynch, and Judy Wajcman, 113–38. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Collins, H. M. 1981. “The Place of the ‘Core-Set’ in Modern Science: Social Contingency with Methodological Propriety in Science.” History of Science 19 (1): 6–19. https://doi.org/10.1177/007327538101900102.

Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. 1976. “The ‘Industrial Revolution’ in the Home: Household Technology and Social Change in the 20th Century.” Technology and Culture 17 (1): 1–23. https://doi.org/10.2307/3103251.

Cowles, Henry M. 2016. “The Age of Methods: William Whewell, Charles Peirce, and Scientific Kinds.” Isis 107 (4): 722–37. https://doi.org/10.1086/689697.

Crawley, Jacqueline N. 2007. What’s Wrong With My Mouse: Behavioral Phenotyping of Transgenic and Knockout Mice. 2nd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Liss.

Fraser, Leanne M., Richard E. Brown, Ahmed Hussin, Mara Fontana, Ashley Whittaker, Timothy P. O’Leary, Lauren Lederle, Andrew Holmes, and André Ramos. 2010. “Measuring Anxiety- and Locomotion-Related Behaviours in Mice: A New Way of Using Old Tests.” Psychopharmacology 211 (1): 99–112. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-010-1873-0.

Freese, Jeremy, and David Peterson. 2018. “The Emergence of Statistical Objectivity: Changing Ideas of Epistemic Vice and Virtue in Science.” Sociological Theory 36 (3): 289–313. https://doi.org/10.1177/0735275118794987.

Hackam, Daniel G., and Donald A. Redelmeier. 2006. “Translation of Research Evidence from Animals to Humans.” JAMA 296 (14): 1727–32. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.296.14.1731.

Hagenbuch, Niels, Joram Feldon, and Benjamin K Yee. 2006. “Use of the Elevated Plus-Maze Test with Opaque or Transparent Walls in the Detection of Mouse Strain Differences and the Anxiolytic Effects of Diazepam.” Behavioural Pharmacology 17 (1): 31–41.

Hippel, Eric von. 1986. “Lead Users: A Source of Novel Product Concepts.” Management Science 32 (7): 791–805. https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.32.7.791.

Hughes, Thomas P. 1979. “The Electrification of America: The System Builders.” Technology and Culture 20 (1): 124–61. https://doi.org/10.2307/3103115.

“Jeffrey R. Spies, Ph.D.” n.d. Accessed November 26, 2019. https://jeffspies.com/.

Jordan, Kathleen, and Michael Lynch. 1992. “The Sociology of a Genetic Engineering Technique: Ritual and Rationality in the Performance of the ‘Plasmid Prep.’” In The Right Tools for the Job: At Work in 20th Century Life Sciences, edited by Adele E. Clarke and Joan H. Fujimura. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Joy-Gaba, Jennifer A., and Brian A. Nosek. 2010. “The Surprisingly Limited Malleability of Implicit Racial Evaluations.” Social Psychology 41 (3): 137–46. https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000020.

Kirk, Robert G. W. 2012a. “‘Standardization through Mechanization’: Germ-Free Life and the Engineering of the Ideal Laboratory Animal.” Technology and Culture 53 (1): 61–93. https://doi.org/10.1353/tech.2012.0025.

———. 2012b. “‘Life in a Germ-Free World’: Isolating Life from the Laboratory Animal to the Bubble Boy.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 86 (2): 237–75 . https://doi.org 10.1353/bhm.2012.0028

Knorr-Cetina, Karin D. 1999. Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Kurt, M, A C Arik, and S Celik. 2000. “The Effects of Sertraline and Fluoxetine on Anxiety in the Elevated Plus-Maze Test in Mice.” Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology 11 (2): 173–80. https://doi.org/10.1515/JBCPP.2000.11.2.173.

Landis, Story C., Susan G. Amara, Khusru Asadullah, Chris P. Austin, Robi Blumenstein, Eileen W. Bradley, Ronald G. Crystal, et al. 2012. “A Call for Transparent Reporting to Optimize the Predictive Value of Preclinical Research.” Nature 490 (7419): 187–91. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11556.

Latour, Bruno. 1987. Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

———. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, USA.

Lewis, Jamie, and Andrew Bartlett. 2013. “Inscribing a Discipline: Tensions in the Field of Bioinformatics.” New Genetics and Society 32 (3): 243–63. https://doi.org/10.1080/14636778.2013.773172.

Macleod, Malcolm, Bart H. van der Worp, Emily S. Sena, David W.

Howells, Ulrich Dirnagl, and Geoffrey A. Donnan. 2008. “Evidence for the Efficacy of NXY-059 in Experimental Focal Cerebral Ischaemia Is Confounded by Study Quality.” Stroke 39 (10): 2824–29. https://doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.515957.

Maxwell, Scott E., Michael Y. Lau, and George S. Howard. 2015. “Is Psychology Suffering from a Replication Crisis? What Does ‘Failure to Replicate’ Really Mean?” American Psychologist 70 (6): 487–98. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0039400.

Milner, L. C., and J. C. Crabbe. 2008. “Three Murine Anxiety Models: Results from Multiple Inbred Strain Comparisons.” Genes, Brain, and Behavior 7 (4): 496–505. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1601-183X.2007.00385.x.

Moser, P. C. 1989. “An Evaluation of the Elevated Plus-Maze Test Using the Novel Anxiolytic Buspirone.” Psychopharmacology 99 (1): 48–53. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00634451.

Mukerji, Chandra. 2007. “Controversy Studies.” In The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, edited by George Rizter. Hoboken, NJ: Blackwell Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781405165518.wbeosc130.

Nelson, Nicole C. 2013. “Modeling Mouse, Human, and Discipline: Epistemic Scaffolds in Animal Behavior Genetics.” Social Studies of Science 43 (1): 3–29. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306312712463815.

———. 2016. “Model Homes for Model Organisms: Intersections of Animal Welfare and Behavioral Neuroscience around the Environment of the Laboratory Mouse.” BioSocieties 11 (1): 46–66. https://doi.org/10.1057/biosoc.2015.19.

———. 2018. Model Behavior: Animal Experiments, Complexity, and the Genetics of Psychiatric Disorders. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Nosek, B. A., G. Alter, G. C. Banks, D. Borsboom, S. D. Bowman, S. J. Breckler, S. Buck, et al. 2015. “Promoting an Open Research Culture.” Science 348 (6242): 1422–25. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aab2374.

Nosek, Brian. 2017. “Why Are We Working so Hard to Open up Science? A Personal Story.” Center for Open Science (blog). December 8, 2017. https://cos.io/blog/why-are-we-working-so-hard-open-science-personal-story/.

Nosek, Brian A., and Jeffrey J. Hansen. 2008. “The Associations in Our Heads Belong to Us: Searching for Attitudes and Knowledge in Implicit Evaluation.” Cognition & Emotion 22 (4): 553–94. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699930701438186.

Open Science Collaboration. 2012. “An Open, Large-Scale, Collaborative Effort to Estimate the Reproducibility of Psychological Science.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 7 (6): 657–60. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691612462588.

———. 2015. “Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science.” Science 349 (6251): aac4716. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aac4716.

Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik M. Conway. 2011. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press.

Oudshoorn, Nelly, and Trevor Pinch. 2003. “Introduction: How Users and Non-Users Matter.” In How Users Matter: The Co-Construction of Users and Technology, edited by Nelly Oudshoorn and Trevor Pinch, 1–25. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Panofsky, Aaron L. 2011. “Field Analysis and Interdisciplinary Science: Scientific Capital Exchange in Behavior Genetics.” Minerva 49 (3): 295. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11024-011-9175-1.

Rasmussen, Nicolas. 2014. Gene Jockeys: Life Science and the Rise of Biotech Enterprise. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Rheinberger, Hans-Jorg. 1997. Toward a History of Epistemic Things: Synthesizing Proteins in the Test Tube. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Silva, M. T., C. R. Alves, and E. M. Santarem. 1999. “Anxiogenic-like Effect of Acute and Chronic Fluoxetine on Rats Tested on the Elevated plus-Maze.” Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research 32 (3): 333–39.

Star, Susan Leigh. 2010. “This is Not a Boundary Object: Reflections on the Origins of a Concept.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 35 (5): 601–17. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243910377624.

Wylie, Caitlin Donahue. 2015. “‘The Artist’s Piece Is Already in the Stone’: Constructing Creativity in Paleontology Laboratories.” Social Studies of Science 45 (1): 31–55. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306312714549794.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.17351/ests2020.345



Copyright (c) 2020 Nicole C. Nelson

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.