Is scientific knowledge socially constructed? A Bayesian account of Laboratory Life

Author : Henry Small

In the book Laboratory Life Latour and Woolgar present an account of how scientific “facts” are formed through a process of microsocial interactions among individuals and “inscription devices” in the lab initially described as social construction.

The process moves through a series of steps during which the details and nature of the object become more and more certain until all qualifications are dropped, and the “fact” emerges as secure scientific knowledge. An alternative to this account is described based on a Bayesian probabilistic framework which arrives at the same end point.

The motive force for the constructivist approach appears to involve social processes of convincing colleagues while the Bayesian approach relies on the consistency of theory and evidence as judged by the participants.

The role of social processes is discussed in Bayesian terms, the acquisition and asymmetry of information, and its analogy to puzzle solving. Some parallels between the Bayesian and constructivist accounts are noted especially in relation to information theory.

URL : Is scientific knowledge socially constructed? A Bayesian account of Laboratory Life

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2023.1214512

Empirical evidence on the relationship between research and teaching in academia

Authors : Domenico A. Maisano, Luca Mastrogiacomo, Fiorenzo Franceschini

Research and teaching are the two most characteristic activities of the professional life of academics. Since the second half of the last century, a plurality of studies focused on the link between these activities, with often contrasting conclusions.

While some studies are in line with the von-Humboldtian view of research and teaching as synergistic activities, other studies theorize their uncorrelation or even negative tension. This divergence of views probably stems from the fact that investigations are often based on heterogeneous, limited and difficult-to-generalise data, using mainly qualitative metrics.

This paper deepens the study of the research-teaching link, through a survey of 251 academics from Politecnico di Torino, i.e., one of the major Italian technical universities. From a methodological point of view, research and teaching are both analysed from the dual perspective of workload and quality of results obtained, on the basis of data of various kinds, including bibliometric indicators, teaching satisfaction indexes, number of credits awarded to students, etc.

Next, a correlation analysis investigates possible links between teaching and research, showing that they tend to be weak and/or statistically insignificant. For instance, the investigation excludes both (i) the existence of a negative link in terms of workload—contradicting considerations such as “Those who do more teaching have less time to do research and vice versa”—and (ii) the existence of a positive link in terms of the quality of the results obtained—contradicting considerations such as “Those who obtain high quality results in research are likely to do the same in teaching and vice versa”.

The results of this study are limited to the Italian context and do not necessarily have general validity. Nevertheless, they enhance previous findings in the scientific literature and may be useful for university administrators and those involved in the formulation of incentive strategies for academics.

URL : Empirical evidence on the relationship between research and teaching in academia

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-023-04770-x

Assessing the Value of Subscription Journal Packages and Open Access Journal Articles in a Community College Context

Authors : Tim Dolan, Duncan Claflin

Introduction

Academic libraries are facing two trends: the rising cost of journal subscriptions—the ongoing ‘serials crisis’—and the increasing availability of scholarly journal articles through free, open access channels.

Methods

This study analyzed the bibliographies from 116 research projects created by students across disciplines at a small community college, and classified citations to journal articles based on the simplest way students could have accessed them.

Results

more than 60% of the scholarly journal articles that students used are available to them for free, while an additional 18% are available through state-sponsored database subscriptions available to any Massachusetts resident. Only 17% of the journal articles used were available to students solely through the library’s database packages, and more than half of those articles were used by students in the ADN nursing program.

Discussion

These findings call into question the value of expensive subscription databases to community college libraries and suggest a pattern of diminishing return on investment and value. The trend towards cancellation of ‘big deal’ journal packages at large institutions addresses similar concerns, though the dynamics are somewhat different at small institutions.

Conclusion

The paper concludes by suggesting some steps that small academic libraries might take to adapt to this changing publishing environment, in the areas of collection development and information literacy instruction, in order to better serve students.

URL : Assessing the Value of Subscription Journal Packages and Open Access Journal Articles in a Community College Context

DOI : https://doi.org/10.31274/jlsc.15673

Evaluative altmetrics: is there evidence for its application to research evaluation?

Authors : Wenceslao Arroyo-Machado, Daniel Torres-Salinas

Introduction

Altmetrics have been demonstrated as a promising tool for analyzing scientific communication on social media. Nevertheless, its application for research evaluation remains underdeveloped, despite the advancement of research in the study of diverse scientific interactions.

Methods

This paper develops a method for applying altmetrics in the evaluation of researchers, focusing on a case study of the Environment/Ecology ESI field publications by researchers at the University of Granada. We considered Twitter as a mirror of social attention, news outlets as media, and Wikipedia as educational, exploring mentions from these three sources and the associated actors in their respective media, contextualizing them using various metrics.

Results

Our analysis evaluated different dimensions such as the type of audience, local attention, engagement generated around the mention, and the profile of the actor. Our methodology effectively provided dashboards that gave a comprehensive view of the different instances of social attention at the author level.

Discussion

The use of altmetrics for research evaluation presents significant potential, as shown by our case study. While this is a novel method, our results suggest that altmetrics could provide valuable insights into the social attention that researchers garner. This can be an important tool for research evaluation, expanding our understanding beyond traditional metrics.

URL : Evaluative altmetrics: is there evidence for its application to research evaluation?

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2023.1188131

Données ouvertes liées et recherche historique : un changement de paradigme

Auteur/Author : Francesco Beretta

Dans le contexte de la transition numérique, le Web sémantique et les données ouvertes liées (linked open data [LOD], en anglais) jouent un rôle de plus en plus central, car ils permettent de construire des « graphes d’information » (knowledge graphs, en anglais) reliant l’ensemble des ressources du Web.

Ce phénomène interroge les sciences historiques et soulève la question d’un changement de paradigme. Après avoir précisé ce qu’il faut entendre par « données », l’article analyse la place qu’elles occupent dans le processus de production du savoir.

Il présente les principales composantes du changement de paradigme, en particulier le potentiel des LOD et d’une sémantique robuste en tant que véhicules d’une information factuelle de qualité, intelligible et réutilisable. S’ensuit une présentation des projets d’infrastructure réalisés au sein du Laboratoire de recherche historique Rhône-Alpes (Larhra) : symogih.org, ontome.net, geovistory.org.

Leur but est de faciliter la transition numérique grâce à un outillage construit en cohérence avec l’épistémologie des sciences historiques et de contribuer à la réalisation d’un « graphe d’information » disciplinaire.

URL : Données ouvertes liées et recherche historique : un changement de paradigme

DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/revuehn.3349

(Semi)automated disambiguation of scholarly repositories

Authors  : Miriam Baglioni, Andrea Mannocci, Gina Pavone, Michele De Bonis, Paolo Manghi

The full exploitation of scholarly repositories is pivotal in modern Open Science, and scholarly repository registries are kingpins in enabling researchers and research infrastructures to list and search for suitable repositories. However, since multiple registries exist, repository managers are keen on registering multiple times the repositories they manage to maximise their traction and visibility across different research communities, disciplines, and applications.

These multiple registrations ultimately lead to information fragmentation and redundancy on the one hand and, on the other, force registries’ users to juggle multiple registries, profiles and identifiers describing the same repository. Such problems are known to registries, which claim equivalence between repository profiles whenever possible by cross-referencing their identifiers across different registries.

However, as we will see, this “claim set” is far from complete and, therefore, many replicas slip under the radar, possibly creating problems downstream.

In this work, we combine such claims to create duplicate sets and extend them with the results of an automated clustering algorithm run over repository metadata descriptions. Then we manually validate our results to produce an “as accurate as possible” de-duplicated dataset of scholarly repositories.

URL : https://arxiv.org/abs/2307.02647

Gender-Related Differences in the Citation Impact of Scientific Publications and Improving the Authors’ Productivity

Authors : Oleksandr Kuchanskyi, Yurii Andrashko, Andrii Biloshchytskyi, Serik Omirbayev, Aidos Mukhatayev, Svitlana Biloshchytska, Adil Faizullin

The article’s purpose is an analysis of the citation impact of scientific publications by authors of different gender compositions. The page method was chosen to calculate the citation impact of scientific publications, and the obtained results allowed to estimate the impact of the scientific publications based on the number of citations.

The normalized citation impact is calculated according to nine subsets of scientific publications that correspond to patterns of different gender compositions of authors. Also, these estimates were calculated for each country with which the authors of the publications are affiliated.

The Citation database, Network Dataset (Ver. 13), was chosen for the scientometric analysis. The dataset includes more than 5 million scientific publications and 48 million citations. Most of the publications in the dataset are from the STEM field. The results indicate that articles with a predominantly male composition are cited more than articles with a mixed or female composition of authors in this direction.

Analysis of advantages in dynamics indicates that in the last decade, in developed countries, there has been a decrease in the connection between the citation impact of scientific publications and the gender composition of their authors.

However, the obtained results still confirm the presence of gender inequality in science, which may be related to socioeconomic and cultural characteristics, natural homophily, and other factors that contribute to the appearance of gender gaps.

An essential consequence of overcoming these gaps, including in science, is ensuring the rights of people in all their diversity.

URL : Gender-Related Differences in the Citation Impact of Scientific Publications and Improving the Authors’ Productivity

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3390/publications11030037