Workshop 2: Mixed methods in the science of science

October 2022, hosted by Jacob Habinek

Institute for Analytical Sociology (IAS), Linköping University

The second workshop focuses on methodology. The science of science is still a young field, but it takes its place alongside a number of long established approaches, including history, philosophy, and social studies of science. The very existence of so many different research communities chasing after the same question raises questions of method. At the present moment there is no consensus about the relationship between each approach: bibliometric and quantitative methods have long aroused skepticism from historians and philosophers, while the science of science has at times ignored or dismissed the contributions of humanistic scholars, to say nothing of the running battles historians and philosophers of science have fought with each other from the days of the Vienna Circle to the “Science Wars” of the 1990s.

The aim of the workshop is not to settle these debates, but simply to start a conversation among practitioners about possible divisions of labor between qualitative, quantitative, and philosophical approaches. The workshop will be organized around two questions. First, how can qualitative, quantitative and philosophical studies be used to confirm, critique, and check the claims of another? Are the claims made by scientists, historians, and philosophers of science in any sense commensurable, and even if they are not, can they be used to shed light or place scope conditions on each other? Second, how can insights, intuitions, and speculations emerging from one approach be transported to the others? Do they remain merely useful intuitions, analogies, and metaphors, or is it possible to place stronger expectations on the synergies between different methods? The methodological reflections of this workshop will draw on precise examples of science of science research discussed at the two earlier workshops.

The workshop will be held in Norrköping, Sweden, at the Institute for Analytical Sociology (IAS) of Linköping University, Sweden. The IAS is an interdisciplinary research environment that hosts considerable ongoing research relevant to the proposed workshop series, including projects on the logic of explanation in social sciences, the application of text mining and machine learning of cultural studies, and the social dynamics of awarding Nobel Prizes.