Senior researcher at the Department of Sociology of the Technical University Berlin, Germany
Researchers‘ Careers and Inclusion in Scientific Communities
Knowledge production in the sciences, social sciences and humanities is a communal enterprise rather than an activity of isolated individuals. However, although researchers produce knowledge as members of scientific communities, they are included in their communities’ knowledge production in different ways and to different degrees. Community members produce different types of contributions, use contributions by fellow community members in specific ways and differ in their inclusion in the community’s decision processes. These differences manifest themselves in specific roles and statuses of researchers and in various national-level and international-level centre-periphery structures of scientific communities.
In our lecture, we discuss the ways in which researchers’ careers position them in these centre-periphery relationships. Using evidence from projects on early career researchers and research in the GDR and the US, we discuss the impact of national and organisational conditions on the inclusion of researchers in their international scientific communities, including
- the inescapable tension between researchers’ need to be active members of their international scientific community, on the one hand, and their own or others’ expectations to contribute to national development;
- the impact of national and organisational constraints such as insufficient resources, institutional restrictions of communication or travel or political priorities for research on the positioning of researchers; and
- The opportunities for researchers to overcome ‘cumulative disadvantages’ resulting from prolonged limited inclusion.
Our theoretical conclusion from this discussion is that the positions of researchers in their scientific communities are far more varied than previously considered, and that researchers’ careers must be re-thought with regard to their function of positioning of researchers in various centre-periphery structures. A political conclusion is that science policy and management measures must be assessed according to the opportunities they provide for researchers to participate in the knowledge production of their scientific communities.
Grit Laudel is a senior researcher at the Department of Sociology of the Technical University Berlin. She obtained her PhD at the University of Bielefeld, and subsequently worked at research institutes and universities in Germany, Australia, and the Netherlands. Her major research interest is the interaction of epistemic and institutional factors in the shaping of conduct and content of research at the individual level. She has also published on qualitative methods and research methods in science studies including bibliometrics and interviewing.
Her current empirical projects concern the independence of early career researchers and the impact of conditions of research in the GDR on the post-unification careers of its researchers. Recent publications include Laudel, Grit, and Jana Bielick, 2018. The emergence of individual research programmes in the early career phase of academics. Science, Technology, & Human Values 43: 972-1010; Laudel, Grit, Jana Bielick, and Jochen Gläser, 2018. ‘Ultimately the question always is: “What do I have to do to do it right?”’ Scripts as explanatory factors of career decisions. Human Relations (online first).