S&T Indicators ‘In the Wild’: Contextualisation and Participation for Responsible Metrics

29 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2018

See all articles by Ismael Ràfols

Ismael Ràfols

Ingenio (CSIC-UPV), Universitat Politècnica de València; Leiden University - Centre for Science and Technology Studies

Date Written: September 2, 2018


The use of indicators in research policy and evaluation is widely perceived as problematic. Responding to demands of explicit normative framings in STI governance, I propose an agenda for transforming the place and role of indicators in policy. Given that expert advice should not separate knowledge formation from decision-making under conditions of uncertainty and lack of value consensus, I argue that current scientometrics is too focused on technical issues, too reductionist and isolated from the contexts and values of its use. Using Callon’s analytical framework of ‘secluded research’ vs. ‘research in the wild’ I propose three moves for improving design and use of STI indicators. First, to continue ongoing trends towards pluralising the data sources, processing and visualisations techniques, and expand the research communities involved in scientometrics. Second, to develop forms of quantitative evidence that can be contextualised with the participation of a more diverse set of stakeholders. Third, to open up the policy framings implicit in measurement, and use quantitative analyses to reveal more balance perspectives of existing and alternative STI options. I conclude by arguing that these shifts are necessary to preserve epistemic diversity and pluralism in the face of ongoing managerial push for standardisation via ‘platforms’ run by commercial oligopolies.

Keywords: S&T Indicators; STI Policy

JEL Classification: 030, O38

Suggested Citation

Ràfols, Ismael, S&T Indicators ‘In the Wild’: Contextualisation and Participation for Responsible Metrics (September 2, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3243134 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3243134

Ismael Ràfols (Contact Author)

Ingenio (CSIC-UPV), Universitat Politècnica de València ( email )

Camí de Vera s/n, Edif.8E, Univ.Politec.Valencia
València, País Valencià 46022

Leiden University - Centre for Science and Technology Studies ( email )


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