TIK webinar with Professor James Wilsdon
As part of our innovation lunch series, Professor James Wilsdon (The University of Sheffield) presents "Meta-science and meta-research: old wine in new bottles, or a cocktail for change?"
Across the world, engagement is intensifying in debates over how research is funded, practiced and evaluated, and in how research systems and cultures can become more robust, open, inclusive and impactful. A growing army of researchers, from diverse disciplinary and methodological starting points, are now grappling with these questions.
Alongside such work, fresh buzzwords have emerged or been recycled—such as 'meta-science', 'meta-research', 'science of science', and 'research on research’—often accompanied by hubristic claims to novelty or distinctiveness, while seeming disconnected or partially blind to decades of related work that have gone before, in fields such as STS, scientometrics, history and philosophy of science, research policy and innovation studies.
How should those of us based in more established fields respond to our new neighbours? Do we throw open our doors and start mixing the drinks, or add a few padlocks and reinforce the fences? Does the visibility and support (in some quarters) for more contemporary (re)framings reflect their blunter critical stance, or simply underline the failure of long-established approaches to win sufficient allies, resources and arguments?
Drawing on his own experience of 20 years as a science policy researcher, followed by 18 months as director of an unashamedly meta-scientific Research on Research Institute (RoRI), James Wilsdon will explore the tensions and possibilities of our own fields, old and new.
In resisting hype and what some see as “Columbusing” (the “discovery” of something long known), we must also remain alert to what Robert Merton dubbed the fallacy of “adumbration”—negating genuine novelty and advances by reference to an earlier trail of related findings.
Can we look beyond the labels, and remain open to genuine ways in which fundamental questions about research and innovation systems, the contexts in which they are being asked, and our capacity to answer them, are advancing? And where do we go from here?
You can register for this webinar here.
James Wilsdon: Digital Science Professor of Research Policy at the University of Sheffield and Director of the Research on Research Institute (RoRI), a global consortium of research funders, academics and technologists working to advance transformative & translational ‘meta-research'. He is also vice-chair of the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA). An interdisciplinary social scientist, he works on the politics, governance and management of research systems, and the relationship between evidence and decision-making. Over his career, in addition to posts at the universities of Sheffield, Sussex and Lancaster, he has worked in think tanks and as Director of Science Policy for the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science. His recent publications include (with Richard Jones) The Biomedical Bubble (Nesta 2018). Previously, he chaired the UK’s Campaign for Social Science, and led an independent review of the role of metrics in research, published in 2015 as The Metric Tide. He is a Fellow of the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences, serves on the editorial board of the open access journal Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, and is on twitter @jameswilsdon.