Function, reception, and performativity of review literature in science (FuReWiRev)

Start of the project: 01-Aug-2018 - End of the project: 30-Nov-2022

Scientific knowledge is a central resource of contemporary societies, which is reflected in a rising demand for ‘more’ and ‘better’ knowledge. But how is such knowledge produced in the first place? From a sociological perspective, an obvious site for studying the production of scientific knowledge is the publication system with all its particularities, such as the practice of peer reviewing. Consequently, much attention has been given to the roles and effects of the scientific research article and the networks emerging from citations between research articles.

Much less attention has been given to the roles and effects of another publication format: the review article. At first sight, a review article merely summarizes the facts others have already established and thus seems to play only a secondary role in the production of knowledge. On a closer look, however, it becomes apparent that the review article is a forceful device. In selecting articles for review and commenting on their research quality and findings, the review shapes our understanding and judgement of ‘the factual’.

Our project focuses on this often-neglected publication format and studies the roles, receptions, and performativity of scientific review literature. We include the consideration of the specific conditions under which scientific knowledge is produced today, i.e. an increasingly economic orientation and the introduction of metrics assessing research performance and quality of research output. This changing research climate, we assume, will have an effect on the way reviews are used and received. Especially in areas where research output is high, reviews will play a key role in providing guidance and deciding what counts as legitimate knowledge. We investigate how reviews are written and read in different fields and disciplines and which roles they play there.

To answer our research questions, we employ and mix different methods: hermeneutic content analyses, expert interviews, citation network analyses, and text mining. The project has a time frame of three years and is financed by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

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Publications

Introduction to Special Issue: quantitative studies of science in Germany.

Blümel, C., & Gauch, S. (2021).
Introduction to Special Issue: quantitative studies of science in Germany. Scientometrics (online first). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-021-04203-7

A comparison of systematic reviews and guideline-based systematic reviews in medical studies.

Schniedermann, A. (2021).
A comparison of systematic reviews and guideline-based systematic reviews in medical studies. Scientometrics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-021-04199-0

The neglected politics behind evidence-based policy: shedding light on instrument constituency dynamics.

Simons, A., & Schniedermann, A. (2021).
The neglected politics behind evidence-based policy: shedding light on instrument constituency dynamics. Policy & Politics (online first). https://doi.org/10.1332/030557321X16225469993170

What Synthetic Biology Aims At: Review Articles as Sites for Constructing and Narrating an Emerging Field.

Blümel, C. (2021).
What Synthetic Biology Aims At: Review Articles as Sites for Constructing and Narrating an Emerging Field. In K. Kastenhofer & S. Molyneux-Hodgson (Hrsg.), Community and Identity in Contemporary Technosciences (S. 65-84). Cham: Springer Nature (online first).
Abstract

The analysis of scientific communities and collectives are central to STS and the sociology of science. Reviewing practices, that is, practices of ordering, defining or delineating scientific fields can be understood as an often neglected, yet prevailing textual practice of community building, particularly in novel and emerging research fields, such as synthetic biology. In this article, I aim to explore the structure and content of review articles as a dedicated scholarly genre in synthetic biology, focusing on the period between 2002 and 2012.

What Synthetic Biology Aims At: Review Articles as Sites for Constructing and Narrating an Emerging Field.

Blümel, C. (2020).
What Synthetic Biology Aims At: Review Articles as Sites for Constructing and Narrating an Emerging Field. In Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook. [preprint]. https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/npfkv

Studying review articles in scientometrics and beyond: a research agenda.

Blümel, C., & Schniedermann, A. (2020).
Studying review articles in scientometrics and beyond: a research agenda. Scientometrics, 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-020-03431-7
Presentations

Reporting Guidelines and their Mission to increase Trust in Biomedicine.

Schniedermann, A. (2021, Oktober).
Reporting Guidelines and their Mission to increase Trust in Biomedicine. Vortrag auf der Konferenz Trust in Science, Research group “Trust in information”, HLRS, Stuttgart (Germany).

The Resolution of Epistemic Crises in Biomedicine: The Stage of Transparency.

Schniedermann, A., & Blümel, C. (2021, Oktober).
The Resolution of Epistemic Crises in Biomedicine: The Stage of Transparency. Vortrag auf der Konferenz 4S Annual Meeting 2021, Society for Social Studies of Science (4S).

Function, Reception and Performativity of Review Literature in Science, in the Context of the Bibliometrics-driven Incentive Structure.

Schniedermann, A. (2020, Juli).
Function, Reception and Performativity of Review Literature in Science, in the Context of the Bibliometrics-driven Incentive Structure. Vortrag auf dem I²SoS-Colloquium Summer Semester 2020, Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Science (I²SoS), Bielefeld University, 14.07.2020, Bielefeld .

On top of the hierarchy: evidence practices and practicing evidence of systematic reviews in biomedicine.

Schniedermann, A., & Blümel, C. (2020, Februar).
On top of the hierarchy: evidence practices and practicing evidence of systematic reviews in biomedicine. Vortrag auf der Konferenz Practicing Evidence-Evidence Practices, DFG Forschungsgruppe, 19.2.-21.2.2020, München.

Instrument Constituencies as Nexus Actors - Their Role in Mediating Between Science and Policy Fields.

Simons. A., & Schniedermann, A. (2020, Januar).
Instrument Constituencies as Nexus Actors - Their Role in Mediating Between Science and Policy Fields. Vortrag auf der AG Politische Soziologie, Prof. Dr. Holger Straßheim, 15.01.2020, Bielefeld.

Studying review articles in scientometrics: methods, topics, and future prospects.

Blümel, C., & Schniedermann, A. (2019, September).
Studying review articles in scientometrics: methods, topics, and future prospects. Workshop given at the 17th International Conference on Scientometrics and Informetrics, 2nd-5th September 2019, Rome, Italy.

The role of policy instrument constituencies in creating linkages between policy fields.

Simons, A. (2019, Juni).
The role of policy instrument constituencies in creating linkages between policy fields. Vortrag auf der ICPP4 International Conference of Public Policy, panel on “Nexus Problems”, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.

The Valuation of Digital Scholarly Communication: Platforms, Metrics, and Narratives.

Blümel, C. (2019, Februar).
The Valuation of Digital Scholarly Communication: Platforms, Metrics, and Narratives. Invited Talk an der TU München.

Modes of Knowledge Transfer in Synthetic Biology: Between commercialisation and societal legitimation.

Blümel, C. (2019, Januar).
Modes of Knowledge Transfer in Synthetic Biology: Between commercialisation and societal legitimation. Presentation at the Max Planck Synthetic Biology (MaxSynbio) Innovation Workshop, Max-Planck Institut für Intelligente Systeme Stuttgart.

Contact persons

Clemens Blümel
Clemens Blümel +49 30 2064177-31
Arno Simons
Dr. Arno Simons +49 30 2064177-50

Funded by

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung