- Scientific community
The scientific community consists of the total body of
scientists, its relationships and interactions. It is normally divided into "sub-communities" each working on a particular field within science. Objectivity is expected to be achieved by the scientific method. Peer review, through discussion and debate within journals and conferences, assists in this objectivity by maintaining the quality of research methodology and interpretation of results.
Membership, status and interactions
Membership of the community is generally, but not exclusively, a function of
education, employment status, and institutional affiliation. Status within the community is highly correlated with publication record. Sociologists report that gender, race, and class may also influence status within the communityFact|date=July 2008.
Scientists are usually trained in
academiathrough the universitysystem. As such, degrees in the relevant scientific sub-disciplines are often considered prerequisites for membership in the relevant community. In particular, the PhDwith its research requirements functions as a kind of entrance examinationinto the community, though continued membership is dependent on maintaining connections to other researchers through publication and conferences. After obtaining a PhD an academic scientist may continue through post-doctoral fellowships and onto professorships. Other scientists may find employment in industry, think tanks, or the government. Independent researchers tend to be regarded less-highly, though in principle scientists are judged on the caliber of their contributions.
Members of the same community do not need to work together. Communication between the members is established by disseminating research work and hypotheses through articles in
peer reviewed journals, or by attending conferences where new research is presented and ideas exchanged and discussed. There are also many informal methods of communication of scientific work and results as well. And many in a coherent community may actually "not" communicate all of their work with one another, for various professional reasons.
peaking for the scientific community
Unlike in previous centuries when the community of scholars were all members of learned societies and similar institutions, there are no singular bodies which can be said today to speak for all of science. In the
United Statesthe National Academy of Sciencesometimes acts as a surrogate when the opinions of the scientific community need to be ascertained by policy makers or the national government, but the statements of the National Academy are not binding on scientists nor do they necessarily reflect the opinions of every scientist in the community. Nevertheless, general scientific consensusis a concept which is often referred to when dealing with questions that can be subject to scientific methodology. While the consensus opinion of the community is not always easy to ascertain, generally the standards and utility of the scientific methodhave tended to ensure that scientists agree on a standard, mainstreamcorpus of factexplicated by scientific theorywhile rejecting ideas which run counter to this realization. Scientific consensus is of such importance to science pedagogy, the evaluation of new ideas, and research funding that critics of the consensus often bitterly complain that there is a closed shop biaswithin the scientific community toward new ideas (see articles on protoscience, fringe science, and pseudoscience). In response skeptical organizations have devoted considerable amounts of time and money to debunking the claims of those who balk at scientific consensus.
Philosophers of science argue over the epistemological limits of such a consensus and some, including
Thomas Kuhn, have pointed to the existence of scientific revolutions in the history of scienceas being an important indication that scientific consensus can, at times, be wrong. Nevertheless, the sheer explanatory power of science in its ability to make accurate and precise predictions and aid in the design and engineeringof new technologyhas ensconced "science" and, by proxy, the opinions of the scientific community as a highly respected form of knowledgeboth in the academy and in popular culture.
The high regard with which scientific results are held in Western society has caused a number of political controversies over scientific subjects to arise. A persistency of the alleged conflict between
religion and sciencehas often been cited as representative of a struggle between tradition and progress or faith and reason.Fact|date=April 2007 The combative relationship has been cited back to the beginnings of natural sciencewhen Galileowas tried before the Inquisitionfor preaching blasphemy regarding heliocentrism.Fact|date=April 2007 In more recent times, the creation-evolution controversyhas resulted in many religious believers in a supernatural creation to attack the naturalistic explanation of origins provided by the sciences of evolutionary biology, geology, and astronomy. Although the dichotomy seems to be of a different outlook from a Continental European perspective, it does exist. The Vienna Circle, for instance, had a paramount (i.e. symbolic) influence on the semiotic regimerepresented by the Scientific Communityin Europe.
In the decades following
World War II, many in the scientific community were convinced that nuclear powerwould solve the pending energy crisisby providing "energy too cheap to meter". This advocacy led to the construction of many nuclear power plants, but was also accompanied by a global political movement opposed to nuclear power due to safety concerns and associations of the technology with nuclear weapons. Mass protests in the United States and Europe during the 1970s and 1980s along with the disasters of Chernobyland Three Mile Islandled to a decline in nuclear power plant construction.
References and external articles
;Sociologies of science
Bruno Latourand Steve Woolgar, "". Beverly Hills : Sage Publications, 1979.
*Sharon Traweek, "Beamtimes and lifetimes: the world of high energy physicists". Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988.
*Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, "". Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985).
*Karin Knorr Cetina, "Epistemic cultures." Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.; History and philosophy of science
Thomas Kuhn, " The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962. ;Other articles
* Peter M. Haas. " [http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~olau/ir/archive/haa2.pdf Introduction: epistemic communities and international policy coordination] ". International Organization, v. 46, n. 1, winter 1992, pp. 1-35. (
* " [http://www.tasa.org.au/members/docs/2001_1/Glaser.pdf Producing Communities’ as a Theoretical Challenge] ; Social order in scientific communities". TASA 2001 Conference, The University of Sydney, 13-15 December 2001. (
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