ISR Seminar

  • Gates Hillman Center
  • Reddy Conference Room 4405
  • Post-Doctoral Research Associate
  • Office of the President, European Research Council

Science of Science: describing knowledge, making decisions, gaming the system?

Measuring scientific output has a long tradition and is fraught with controversy. My presentation will introduce the audience to relevant historical fragments of computer assisted scientometric analysis, such as the development of citation indices and metrics like the Journal Impact Factor. I will also address their disputed applications.

Today, the scenery has changed: from once being developed as descriptive methods, several metrics have become “social technologies” and powerful tools for decision making. We nowadays deal with a multitude of theoretical and empirical approaches to intervene in academic decision making. (Evidence based) Policy and administration increasingly seek to evaluate the effects of science and research on innovation and competitiveness in standardized ways, even though epistemic cultures vary a lot. Individual scholars are required to constantly consider their position within certain information markets, both in scientific or in social media realms. This leads to optimization strategies to reduce the complexity of scientific productivity or to specific publication behaviors, such as citation cartels as extreme example. However strategies like these conform to a regime's inner logic to the point of subverting it. The recent critique of the Journal Impact Factor (San Francisco Declaration) may mark a turning point in the application of bibliometric measures and may ask for new forms of evaluating and – even more importantly – objectifying science and research activities. The presentation will end with the discussion about potential new perspectives.


Katja Mayer works as post-doctoral research associate to the president of the European Research Council Prof. Helga Nowotny. In addition, Katja is lecturer at several universities in the field of Science-Technology-Society (STS).


Faculty Host: Juergen Pfeffer

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