Grit Laudel

c:o/re Senior Fellow 06/24 – 04/25

photo by Jana Hambitzer

Grit Laudel is a sociologist of science who since her PhD has been interested in the effects of institutional conditions of research like funding, evaluations or national career systems on the ways in which researchers produce contributions to scientific knowledge. To identify these effects, she compares research in different fields and in different national research systems. For the latter comparison it was helpful that she changed research systems several times, starting her work as a PhD student (at the Max-Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne) and postdoc (University of Frankfurt/ Oder) in Germany, continuing at the Australian National University, the Rathenau Institute and Twente University in the Netherlands before returning in 2013 to Germany at the Technical University Berlin.

Empirically identifying epistemic properties of research fields

Comparing fields of research or tracing their change over time poses the challenge of comparatively describing their epistemic properties. These are properties of a research field’s objects, methods and knowledge, for example the strategic uncertainty (the uncertainty concerning the existence of a searched-for phenomenon) and technical uncertainty (the uncertainty concerning the possibility to produce a phenomenon with a specific experimental design) or the Eigentime of research objects (e.g. reproduction cycles of living organisms). While the importance of comparative approaches and of studying epistemic change has been recognized by science studies for a long time, systematic empirical approaches to the identification of epistemic properties are still missing. The dominant approach of interpreting texts like documents produced by researchers, fieldnotes or interview transcripts in a bottom-up approach is not only labour-intensive and fraught with uncertainties but also limits opportunities for targeted searches for epistemic properties, comparisons of epistemic properties and thus the opportunity to aggregate our knowledge. The aim of my project is to develop a more systematic approach to the empirical identification of epistemic properties of fields.

Publications (selection)

Laudel, Grit. 2023. Researchers’ responses to their funding situation. In Handbook of Public Research Funding, edited by Benedetto Lepori, Ben Jongbloed and Diana Hicks. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 261-278.

Gläser, Jochen, and Laudel, Grit. 2023. Taking Part, Apart: Inclusion of Researchers from the German Democratic Republic in Their International Scientific Communities. In Roadblocks to the Socialist Modernization Path and Transition, edited by Jutta Günther, Dagmara Jajeśniak-Quast, Udo Ludwig and Hans-Jürgen Wagener. London: Palgrave, pp. 197-206.

Laudel, Grit, and Jochen Gläser. 2014. Beyond breakthrough research: Epistemic properties of research and their consequences for research funding. Research Policy 43: 1204–1216.

Gläser, Jochen, and Laudel, Grit. 2015. Cold Atom Gases, Hedgehogs, and Snakes: The Methodological Challenges of Comparing Scientific Things. Nature and Culture 10: 303-332.

Laudel, Grit, and Jochen Gläser, 2007. Interviewing Scientists. Science, Technology & Innovation Studies 3: 91-111.