Issues in Open Scholarship: ‘If Data Sharing is the Answer, What is the Question?’

coverThe European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics‘ publication ERCIM NEWS put out a special issue on ‘scientific data sharing and re-use.’ In it Christine Borgman (out of UCLA’s department of Information Studies) touches in brief on some of the topics covered in her new volume Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (2015, MIT Press).

In her book, Borgman locates data as only meaningful within borgmaninfrastructures or ecologies of knowledge, and discusses the management and exploitation of data as particular kinds of investments in the future of scholarship. Her take on the history of big data and the growing enthusiasm for data sharing, which she asserts often obscures the challenges and complexities of data stewardship, is relevant to historians of the social sciences. An excerpt:

Data practices are local, varying from field to field, individual to individual, and country to country. Studying data is a means to observe how rapidly the landscape of scholarly work in the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities is changing. Inside the black box of data is a plethora of research, technology, and policy issues. Data are best understood as representations of observations, objects, or other entities used as evidence of phenomena for the purposes of research or scholarship. Rarely do they stand alone, separable from software, protocols, lab and field conditions, and other context. The lack of agreement on what constitutes data underlies the difficulties in sharing, releasing, or reusing research data.

Concerns for data sharing and open access raise broader questions about what data to keep, what to share, when, how, and with whom. Open data is sometimes viewed simply as releasing data without payment of fees. In research contexts, open data may pose complex issues of licensing, ownership, responsibility, standards, interoperability, and legal harmonization. To scholars, data can be assets, liabilities, or both. Data have utilitarian value as evidence, but they also serve social and symbolic purposes for control, barter, credit, and prestige. Incentives for scientific advancement often run counter to those for sharing data.

To librarians and archivists, data are scholarly products to curate for future users. However, data are more difficult to manage than publications and most other kinds of evidence. Rarely are data self-describing, and rarely can they be interpreted outside their original context without extensive documentation. Interpreting scientific data often requires access to papers, protocols, analytical tools, instruments, software, workflows, and other components of research practice – and access to the people with whom those data originated. Sharing data may have little practical benefit if the associated hardware, software, protocols, and other technologies are proprietary, unavailable, or obsolete and if the people associated with the origins of the data cannot be consulted.

Read the full article here.

You can also listen (here) to Borgman talk about the topic in an interview with Jasmine McNealy over at New Books in Science, Technology, and Society.

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Special (31 Article!) Issue of Universitas Psychologica

A special issue of the journal Universitas Psychologica dedicated to the history of psychology is now freely available online. The issue includes 31 contributions which explore the history of psychology in a variety of international locales. Articles in this issue include ones on the work of Christian Wolff, the history of psychoanalysis in Chile, a comparative study of behaviorism in Argentina and Brazil, and much, much more.

While most articles are in Spanish a number are written in English. For more on this issue see this post by the Blog da Rede Iberoamericana de Pesquisadores em História da Psicologia. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Happy reading!

“La Idea de Psicología Racional en la Metafísica Alemana (1720) de Christian Wolff,” Saulo Araujo and Thiago Constâncio Ribeiro Pereira. The abstract reads,

Christian Wolff (1679-1754) fue una figura central en la Ilustración europea del siglo XVIII. Al mismo tiempo, tuvo una importancia particular para el desarrollo histórico de la psicología, pues fue el primero en darle a ésta su significación moderna. Sin embargo, la historiografía tradicional de la psicología no le ha dado el debido reconocimiento. El objetivo de este artículo consiste en presentar los elementos centrales de su psicología racional en su Metafísica Alemana (1720) y mostrar su importancia para los debates psicológicos posteriores. Con ello, esperamos contribuir a la divulgación de un aspecto importante del desarrollo histórico de la psicología.

““MUJERES EXTRAVIADAS”: PSICOLOGÍA Y PROSTITUCIÓN EN LA ESPAÑA DE POSTGUERRA,” by Javier Bandrés, Eva Zubieta, and Rafael Llavona. The abstract reads,

La brutal depresión económica en que se sumió la España de postguerra empujó a muchas mujeres a recurrir a la prostitución como único medio de subsistencia. Las autoridades franquistas habían anulado el decreto abolicionista republicano por lo que el comercio sexual era tolerado. Sin embargo, el auge incontrolado de la prostitución hizo reaccionar a las autoridades y se establecieron cárceles especiales para prostitutas. Se analizan los trabajos de postguerra sobre la psicología de la prostitución de tres personajes situados en instituciones claves de la época: Antonio Vallejo Nágera (Universidad de Madrid, Consejo Nacional de Sanidad), Eduardo Martínez Martínez (Clínica Psiquiátrica Penitenciaria de Mujeres) y Francisco J. Echalecu y Canino (Patronato de Protección a la Mujer). Los textos de estos tres autores y sus investigaciones sobre prostitutas españolas les llevan a caracterizarlas como afectas innatas de psicopatía sexual, deficiencia mental y amoralidad. Este diagnóstico les lleva a justificar su internamiento para reforma en las cárceles especiales para prostitutas. Los trabajos de Vallejo, Martínez y Echalecu fueron instrumentales para justificar el establecimiento de las cárceles especiales. El marco conceptual de la biopsicología de inspiración alemana se puso al servicio del proyecto social de la biopolítica franquista.

“Scientifics exchanges between France and Brazil in the history of psychology – the role of Georges Dumas (1908-1946),” by Carolina S. Bandeira de Melo and Regina de Freitas Campos. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special (31 Article!) Issue of Universitas Psychologica

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The Cummings Center: 5 Minute History Lesson

The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology has just released the first video in a new series 5 Minute History Lesson. Episode 1, featured above, explores the life and work of psychologist James V. McConnell. A second episode, on Ruth Howard Beckham, is scheduled for release this summer.

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April 20th Talk! Religion & Anti-psychiatry in Imperial Germany

The British Psychological Society’History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk as part of its spring term BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On April 20th Eric Engstrom (left) will be speaking on “Pastoral Psychiatry and Irrenseelsorge: Religious Aspects of the Anti-psychiatry Debates in Imperial Germany.” Full details follow below.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JG

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Monday 20 April 2015
Dr Eric Engstrom (Humboldt University of Berlin), “Pastoral Psychiatry and Irrenseelsorge: Religious Aspects of the Anti-psychiatry Debates in Imperial Germany.” The abstract reads,

Historians of psychiatry have often enough interpreted the relationship between psychiatry and religion within narrative frameworks that focus on diagnoses and treatments (religious madness, exorcism) or that emphasise broader historical processes such as secularisation, medicalisation, and biologisation. While there is considerable merit to such frameworks, recent critiques of the secularisation paradigm have suggested a larger place for religion and spirituality in late 19th-century urban culture than is often assumed. The work of the American historian Edward R. Dickinson in particular has reminded us of the enduring influence and inertia of conservative Christian organisations in shaping moral discourse and social policy in the Kaiserreich.

My paper examines more closely the interdisciplinary topography between psychiatric and religious professionals, mapping out some of the common terrain on which they cooperated and/or disagreed with one another. In particular, I will examine debates about the place of religion in 19th-century asylum culture and the role of the so-called ‘Irrenseelsorger’. Against this backdrop and drawing especially on examples from Berlin, I will then explore efforts by religious organisations to expand their role in psychiatric after-/extramural care and show how those efforts contributed decisively to a nascent ‘anti-psychiatry’ movement in the years leading up to World War One.

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Somatosphere Review: Nicolas Langlitz’s Neuropsychedelia

Head on over to the blog Somatosphere for a review of Nicolas Langlitz’s recent book, Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research Since the Decade of the Brain. The volume is described on the publisher’s website as an examination of

the revival of psychedelic science since the “Decade of the Brain.” After the breakdown of this previously prospering area of psychopharmacology, and in the wake of clashes between counterculture and establishment in the late 1960s, a new generation of hallucinogen researchers used the hype around the neurosciences in the 1990s to bring psychedelics back into the mainstream of science and society. This book is based on anthropological fieldwork and philosophical reflections on life and work in two laboratories that have played key roles in this development: a human lab in Switzerland and an animal lab in California. It sheds light on the central transnational axis of the resurgence connecting American psychedelic culture with the home country of LSD. In the borderland of science and religion, Neuropsychedelia explores the tensions between the use of hallucinogens to model psychoses and to evoke spiritual experiences in laboratory settings. Its protagonists, including the anthropologist himself, struggle to find a place for the mystical under conditions of late-modern materialism.

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Special Issue: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China”

The March 2015 issue of the journal History of Science is a special issue on “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China.” Guest edited by Howard Chiang (right), the issue includes several articles that may be of interest to AHP readers. Among these articles are ones on Pavlovianism during the Maoist era, the origins of zaolian (early love) as a form of juvenile delinquency, and debates over koro. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Editorial: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China,” by Howard Chiang. No abstract.

“Disciplining China with the scientific study of the state: Lu Zhengxiang and the Chinese Social and Political Science,” by John H. Feng. The abstract reads,

This paper discusses the Chinese Social and Political Science Association and its impact on China’s inclination to Wilsonianism. The CSPSA was founded in Beijing in 1915. Two primary supporters were Lu Zhengxiang (China’s Foreign Minister) and Paul S. Reinsch (American Minister to China during the Wilson administration). It chose English as its official language in order to have dialogues with American scholars. The CSPSA had strong interests in constitutionalism, international relations and international law. As it pondered how to discipline China, it demonstrated its inclination to the American scientific study of the state. Epistemologically, this led to the political converge between China and the US during the Great War.

“From palaeoanthropology in China to Chinese palaeoanthropology: Science, imperialism and nationalism in North China, 1920–1939,” by Hsiao-pei Yen. The abstract reads,

Before the establishment of the Cenozoic Research Laboratory (Xinshengdai yanjiushi) in 1929, paleoanthropological research in China was mainly in the hands of foreigners, individual explorers as well as organized teams. This paper describes the development of paleoanthropology in China in the 1920s and 1930s and its transformation from the international phase to an indigenized one. It focuses on the international elite scientist network in metropolitan Beijing whose activities and discoveries led to such transformation. The bond between members of the network was built on shared scientific devotion, joint field experience, and social activities. However, such scientific internationalism was not immune from imperialistic and nationalistic interests and competition as most members of the network also belonged to institutions of the dominant hegemonic powers, such as the French Paleontological Mission and the American Museum of Natural History, operating by the logic of international system of imperialism. While these foreign institutions enjoyed relatively unrestricted access to the Chinese frontier and Mongolia in the early 20th century to discover and collect for the establishment of what they saw as universal scientific knowledge, in the late 1920s rising Chinese and Mongolian nationalisms began to interpret these activities as violations to their national sovereignty. The idea of establishing a “Chinese” institute to carry out paleoanthropological research in China took shape in such milieu. This paper highlights the entanglement between scientific internationalism, imperialism, nationalism in China in the early 20th century and the complicated process of knowledge formation at various national and personal levels.

“Pavlovianism in China: Politics and differentiation across scientific disciplines in the Maoist era,” by Zhipeng Gao. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China”

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“Why is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders so hard to revise?”

The forthcoming June 2015 issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences includes an article by Rachel Cooper on the difficulty of revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Full details follow below.

“Why is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders so hard to revise? Path-dependence and “lock-in” in classification,” by Rachel Cooper. The abstract reads,

The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the D.S.M.-5, was published in May 2013. In the lead up to publication, radical changes to the classification were anticipated; there was widespread dissatisfaction with the previous edition and it was accepted that a “paradigm shift” might be required. In the end, however, and despite huge efforts at revision, the published D.S.M.-5 differs far less than originally envisaged from its predecessor. This paper considers why it is that revising the D.S.M. has become so difficult. The D.S.M. is such an important classification that this question is worth asking in its own right. The case of the D.S.M. can also serve as a study for considering stasis in classification more broadly; why and how can classifications become resistant to change? I suggest that classifications like the D.S.M. can be thought of as forming part of the infrastructure of science, and have much in common with material infrastructure. In particular, as with material technologies, it is possible for “path dependent” development to cause a sub-optimal classification to become “locked in” and hard to replace.

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New JHBS: The Visual Cliff, POW Stress, Models of Addiction, & More

The Spring 2015 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles on the forgotten animals of the visual cliff experiment, stress research and the POW experience, the use of animal models in addiction research, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The visual cliff’s forgotten menagerie: Rats, goats, babies, and myth-making in the history of psychology,” by Elissa N. Rodkey. The abstract reads,

Eleanor Gibson and Richard Walk’s famous visual cliff experiment is one of psychology’s classic studies, included in most introductory textbooks. Yet the famous version which centers on babies is actually a simplification, the result of disciplinary myth-making. In fact the visual cliff’s first subjects were rats, and a wide range of animals were tested on the cliff, including chicks, turtles, lambs, kid goats, pigs, kittens, dogs, and monkeys. The visual cliff experiment was more accurately a series of experiments, employing varying methods and a changing apparatus, modified to test different species. This paper focuses on the initial, nonhuman subjects of the visual cliff, resituating the study in its original experimental logic, connecting it to the history of comparative psychology, Gibson’s interest in comparative psychology, as well as gender-based discrimination. Recovering the visual cliff’s forgotten menagerie helps to counter the romanticization of experimentation by focusing on the role of extrascientific factors, chance, complexity, and uncertainty in the experimental process.

“Understanding the POW Experience: Stress research and the implementation of the 1955 U.S. Armed Forces code of conduct,” by Robert Genter. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHBS: The Visual Cliff, POW Stress, Models of Addiction, & More

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Why was Wundt’s journal titled *Philosophical* Studies?

Wilhelm Wundt is best known as the founder of first laboratory dedicated specifically to experimental psychology. But he titled the journal that published his famous laboratory’s research Philosophische Studien (Philosophical Studies). Why was that? If his aim was to distinguish between the old philosophical psychology and the new experimental psychology, why confuse the matter by associating himself so closely with philosophy?

First, Wundt was not opposed to philosophical psychology. He just thought that philosophy could be enhanced by adding experimental methods to its toolbox. His Leipzig professorship was, after all, in philosophy, and he wrote a number of treatises on philosophical problems far removed from his experimental work. But still, why didn’t he title his journal something like Psychologische Studien (Psychological Studies), since it reported the psychological research of his students and himself?

The answer is that there was already a journal in Germany entitled Psychische Studien (Psychical Studies) that published work on spiritualism and paranormal phenomena. Wundt regarded this as unscholarly nonsense, and he did not want his own work to be confused with it in the public mind, so he went with the “Queen of the Sciences” instead: philosophy.

Andreas Sommer has just retweeted an excellent little 2013 article on that “other” journal at his blog, “Forbidden Histories.” You can read it here.

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Call for Participation: Interviews with Archival Researchers

Humanites_Numeriques-550x300Here at AHP, we’re interested in fostering conversation about historiographic theory and methods, and as we have access to such a vibrant community of historians and allied researchers, I thought I’d forward this query posted on the H-Public discussions section of H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. 

Alexandra Chassanoff from the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is looking for assistance with her doctoral research in the form of participation by “individuals who have used digitized photographs in their scholarly activities (teaching, publications, presentations, or related research pursuits). ”

Here are further details:

The interview should take approximately one hour and can be conducted in person, over the telephone, or online using Go2Meeting.  Your responses to these questions will be kept confidential.  There is no compensation for participating in this study; however, I am confident that your participation will contribute significantly to this emerging area of research.

If you are willing to participate, please send an email to: achass@email.unc.edu to confirm your interest. I am happy to answer any questions for you as well.

Historians of science (and other academic or professional disciplines) are used to studying how other people conduct research, but rarely have the spotlight turned on their own work. It is always beneficial to be be given the opportunity to take a look at your methodological ‘black box’ and reflect on those processes. If interested, please contact Alexandra.

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