Science in Context (SCI CONTEXT)

Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)

Journal description

Science in Context is devoted to the study of the sciences from the points of view of comparative epistemology and historical sociology of scientific knowledge. The journal is committed to an interdisciplinary approach to the study of science and its cultural development - it does not segregate considerations drawn from history philosophy and sociology. Controversies within scientific knowledge and debates about methodology are presented in their contexts.

Current impact factor: 0.29

Impact Factor Rankings

2015 Impact Factor Available summer 2015
2013 / 2014 Impact Factor 0.286
2012 Impact Factor 0.548
2011 Impact Factor 0.395
2010 Impact Factor 0.489
2009 Impact Factor 0.236
2008 Impact Factor 0.179
2007 Impact Factor 0.154
2006 Impact Factor 0.196
2005 Impact Factor 0.357
2004 Impact Factor 0.277
2003 Impact Factor 0.208
2002 Impact Factor 0.239
2001 Impact Factor 0.32
2000 Impact Factor 0.186
1999 Impact Factor 0.155
1998 Impact Factor 0.118

Impact factor over time

Impact factor

Additional details

5-year impact 0.43
Cited half-life 0.00
Immediacy index 0.40
Eigenfactor 0.00
Article influence 0.37
Website Science in Context website
Other titles SIC, science in context
ISSN 0269-8897
OCLC 16060175
Material type Periodical, Internet resource
Document type Journal / Magazine / Newspaper, Internet Resource

Publisher details

Cambridge University Press (CUP)

  • Pre-print
    • Author can archive a pre-print version
  • Post-print
    • Author can archive a post-print version
  • Conditions
    • Author's Pre-print on author's personal website, departmental website, social media websites, institutional repository, non-commercial subject-based repositories, such as PubMed Central, Europe PMC or arXiv
    • Author's post-print on author's personal website, departmental website, institutional repository, non-commercial subject-based repositories, such as PubMed Central, Europe PMC or arXiv, on acceptance of publication
    • Publisher's version/PDF cannot be used
    • Published abstract may be deposited
    • Pre-print to record acceptance for publication
    • Publisher copyright and source must be acknowledged with set statement, for deposit of Authors Post-print or Publisher's version/PDF
    • Must link to publisher version
    • This policy is an exception to the default policies of 'Cambridge University Press (CUP)'
  • Classification
    ​ green

Publications in this journal

  • Science in Context 03/2015; 28(01):1-7. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000295
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    ABSTRACT: Argument In the 1970s a public controversy erupted over the proposed use of brain operations to curtail violent behavior. Civil libertarians, civil rights and community activists, leaders of the anti-psychiatry movement, and some U.S. Congressmen charged psychosurgeons and the National Institute of Mental Health, with furthering a political project: the suppression of dissent. Several government-sponsored investigations into psychosurgery rebutted this charge and led to an official qualified endorsement of the practice while calling attention to the need for more "scientific" understanding and better ethical safeguards. This paper argues that the psychosurgery debate of the 1970s was more than a power struggle between members of the public and the psychiatric establishment. The debate represented a clash between a postmodern skepticism about science and renewed focus on ultimate ends, on the one hand, and a modern faith in standards and procedures, a preoccupation with means, on the other. These diverging commitments made the dispute ultimately irresolvable.
    Science in Context 03/2015; 28(01):99-129. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000349
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    ABSTRACT: Argument As historian Henning Schmidgen notes, the scientific study of the nervous system would have been "unthinkable" without the industrialization of communication in the 1830s. Historians have investigated extensively the way nerve physiologists have borrowed concepts and tools from the field of communications, particularly regarding the nineteenth-century work of figures like Helmholtz and in the American Cold War Era. The following focuses specifically on the interwar research of the Cambridge physiologist Edgar Douglas Adrian, and on the technology that led to his Nobel-Prize-winning research, the thermionic vacuum tube. Many countries used the vacuum tube during the war for the purpose of amplifying and intercepting coded messages. These events provided a context for Adrian's evolving understanding of the nerve fiber in the 1920s. In particular, they provide the background for Adrian's transition around 1926 to describing the nerve impulse in terms of "information," "messages," "signals," or even "codes," and for translating the basic principles of the nerve, such as the all-or-none principle and adaptation, into such an "informational" context. The following also places Adrian's research in the broader context of the changing relationship between science and technology, and between physics and physiology, in the first few decades of the twentieth century.
    Science in Context 03/2015; 28(01):31-52. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000313
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    ABSTRACT: Argument This paper examines the intersecting histories of psychiatry and psychology (particularly in its clinical guise) in the United States from the second half of the nineteenth century to the present. It suggests that there have been three major shifts in the ideological and intellectual orientation of the "psy complex." The first period sees the dominance of the asylum in the provision of mental health care, with psychology, once it emerges in the early twentieth century, remaining a small enterprise largely operating outside the clinical arena, save for the development of psychometric technology. It is followed, between 1945 and 1980, by the rise of psychoanalytic psychiatry and the emergence of clinical psychology. Finally, the re-emergence of biological psychiatry is closely associated with two major developments: an emphasis that emerges in the late 1970s on rendering the diagnosis of psychiatric illnesses mechanical and predictable; and the long-term effects of the psychopharmacological revolution that began in the early 1950s. This third period has seen a shift the orientation of mainstream psychiatry away from psychotherapy, the end of traditional mental hospitals, and a transformed environment within which clinical psychologists ply their trade.
    Science in Context 03/2015; 28(01):131-161. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000350
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    ABSTRACT: Argument The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) was a projective psychological test created by Harvard psychologist Henry A. Murray and his lover Christina Morgan in the 1930s. The test entered the nascent intelligence service of the United States (the OSS) during the Second World War due to its celebrated reputation for revealing the deepest aspects of an individual's unconscious. It subsequently spread as a scientifically objective research tool capable not only of dredging the unconscious depths, but also of determining the best candidate for a management position, the psychological complexes of human nature, and the unique characteristics of a culture. Two suppositions underlie the utility of the test. One is the power of narrative. The test entails a calculated abuse of the subjects tested, based on their inability to interpret their own narrative. The form of the test requires that a subject fail to decipher the coded, unconscious meaning their narrative reveals. Murray believed the interpretation of a subject's narrative and the projection contained therein depended exclusively on the psychologist. This view of interpretation stems from the seemingly more reasonable belief of nineteenth-century Romantic thinkers that a literary text serves as a proxy for an author's deepest self. The TAT also supposes that there is something beyond consciousness closely resembling a psychoanalytic unconscious, which also has clear precedents in nineteenth-century German thought. Murray's views on literary interpretation, his view of psychology as well as the continuing prevalence of the TAT, signals a nineteenth-century concept of self that insists "on relations of depth and surface, inner and outer life" (Galison 2007, 277). It is clear the hermeneutic practice of Freud's psychoanalysis, amplified in Jung, drew on literary conceptions of the unconscious wider than those of nineteenth-century psychology.
    Science in Context 03/2015; 28(01):9-30. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000301
  • Science in Context 03/2015; 28(01):163-170. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000362
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    ABSTRACT: This paper aims at contributing to the ongoing efforts to get a firmer grasp of the systematic significance of the entanglement of idealism and empiricism in Helmholtz's work. Contrary to existing analyses, however, the focal point of the present exposition is Helmholtz's attempt to articulate a psychological account of objectification. Helmholtz's motive, as well as his solution to the problem of the object are outlined, and interpreted against the background of his scientific practice on the one hand, and that of empiricist and (transcendental) idealist analyses of experience on the other. The specifically psychological angle taken, not only prompts us to consider figures who have hitherto been treated as having only minor import for Helmholtz interpretation (most importantly J.S. Mill and J.G. Fichte), it furthermore sheds new light on some central tenets of the latter's psychological stance that have hitherto remained underappreciated. For one thing, this analysis reveals an explicit voluntarist tendency in Helmholtz's psychological theory. In conclusion, it is argued that the systematic significance of Helmholtz's empirico-transcendentalism with respect to questions of the mind is best understood as an attempt to found his empirical theory of perception in a second order, normative account of epistemic subjectivity.
    Science in Context 12/2014; 27(4):709-44. DOI:10.1017/S026988971400026X
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    ABSTRACT: This article examines the conception of elements in the natural philosophy of Nicolaus Taurellus (1547-1606) and explores the theological motivation that stands behind this conception. By some of his early modern readers, Taurellus may have been understood as a proponent of material atoms. By contrast, I argue that considerations concerning the substantiality of the ultimate constituents of composites led Taurellus to an immaterialist ontology, according to which elements are immaterial forms that possess active and passive potencies as well as motion and extension. In Taurellus's view, immaterialism about elements provides support for the theological doctrine of creation ex nihilo. As he argues, the ontology of immaterial forms helps to explicate a sense in which creatures are substances, not accidents of the divine substance. In particular, he maintains that immaterial forms stand in suitable relations of ontological dependence to God: creation dependence (since forms would not exist without the divine act of creation), but neither subsistence dependence (since forms continue to exist without continued divine agency) nor activity dependence (since forms are active without requiring divine concurrence).
    Science in Context 12/2014; 27(4):659-82. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000246
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    ABSTRACT: This paper challenges three assumptions common in the literature on expertise: that expertise is linearly derived from scientific knowledge; that experts always align with the established institutional order; and that expertise is a property acquired by individuals. We criticize these ideas by juxtaposing three distinct expert practices involved with flood risk management in England. Virtual engineering is associated with commercial consultancy and relies on standardized software packages to assess local flood inundation. Mathematical experimentation refers to academic scientists creating new digital renderings of the physical dynamics of flooding. Participatory modeling denotes research projects that aim to transform the relationships between experts and local communities. Focusing on different modes of modeling we contribute an analysis of how particular models articulate with specific politics of knowledge as experts form relationships with flood risk management actors. Our empirical study also shows how models can contribute to re-distribution of expertise in local flood risk management.
    Science in Context 12/2014; 27(4):579-603. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000210
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    ABSTRACT: Between 1838 and 1863 the Grimm brothers led a collaborative research project to create a new kind of dictionary documenting the history of the German language. They imagined the work would present a scientific account of linguistic cohesiveness and strengthen German unity. However, their dictionary volumes (most of which were arranged and written by Jacob Grimm) would be variously criticized for their idiosyncratic character and ultimately seen as a poor, and even prejudicial, piece of scholarship. This paper argues that such criticisms may reflect a misunderstanding of the dictionary. I claim it can be best understood as an artifact of romanticist science and its epistemological privileging of subjective perception coupled with a deeply-held faith in inter-subjective congruence. Thus situated, it is a rare and detailed case of Romantic ideas and ideals applied to the scientific study of social artifacts. Moreover, the dictionary's organization, reception, and legacy provide insights into the changing landscape of scientific practice in Germany, showcasing the difficulties of implementing a romanticist vision of science amidst widening gaps between the public and professionals, generalists and specialists.
    Science in Context 12/2014; 27(4):683-707. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000258
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    ABSTRACT: This article explores the scientific partnership between geology professor Gerard De Geer and his wife Ebba Hult following their marriage in 1908. De Geer was an influential participant in Swedish academia and international geology. Hult worked as his assistant until his death in 1943. The partnership was beneficial for both spouses, in particular through the semi-private Geochronological Institute, which they controlled. The article argues that marriage was a culturally acknowledged form of collaboration in the academic community, and as such it offered Hult access to geological research. However, the paper also argues that the gendered scientific institutions produced a fractured position. Partly, Hult managed to create her own role as researcher in geochronology. As a woman and a wife, however, she never moved out of her husband's shadow. Gender is understood as a relational category: Hult was an outsider who participated partially in standardized structures which gave great power to her husband and other men. The fact that she shared this status with other women in Swedish science at the time indicates the structural nature of their position. Nevertheless, they all had individual trajectories through academia. Indeed, the study of collaborative couples illustrates the multifaceted links between individual actions and the historical context of science.
    Science in Context 09/2014; 27(03):423-451. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000131
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies in Sinology have shown that Qing dynasty editors acted as philologists. This paper argues that the identification of their philological methods and editorial choices suggests that their choices were not totally neutral and may have significantly shaped the way modern historians interpreted specific works edited by mathematicians of that dynasty. A case study of the re-edition in 1798 of a Song dynasty treatise, the Yigu yanduan (1259), by a Qing dynasty mathematician will illustrate this point. At the end of the eighteenth century, Li Rui (1773–1817) was asked to prepare an edition of the mathematical works written by Li Ye (1192–1279) for a private collection. Li Rui was a talented mathematician, but he was also a meticulous editor and trained philologist. He adopted his editorial model from the preparation of the imperial encyclopaedia, the Siku quanshu, but Li Rui also made some corrections to the text in an effort to restore an older version of Li Ye's treatises that had been lost. Convinced of the Chinese origin of algebra, Li Rui used philological techniques to recover the lost materials and to restore the roots of “Chinese mathematics.” The Yigu yanduan contains two algebraic procedures to set up quadratic equations, one from the procedure of Celestial Source (tian yuan shu) and the other from the Section of Pieces [of Areas] (tiao duan). Curiously, the second procedure has not yet attracted the attention of scholars so far, although Li Rui's edition is the one typically used by twentieth-century historians of mathematics. Today, the Celestial Source characterizes “Chinese algebra.” However, the specific concerns of Li Rui about the procedure of Celestial Source, combined with his editorial methods, contributed to this perspective.
    Science in Context 09/2014; 3(3). DOI:10.1017/S026988971400012X
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    ABSTRACT: Scientific uncertainty is fundamental to the management of contemporary global risks. In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the start of the H1N1 Influenza Pandemic. This declaration signified the risk posed by the spread of the H1N1 virus, and in turn precipitated a range of actions by global public health actors. This article analyzes the WHO's public representation of risk and examines the centrality of scientific uncertainty in the case of H1N1. It argues that the WHO's risk narrative reflected the context of scientific uncertainty in which it was working. The WHO argued that it was attempting to remain faithful to the scientific evidence, and the uncertain nature of the threat. However, as a result, the WHO's public risk narrative was neither consistent nor socially robust, leading to the eventual contestation of the WHO's position by other global public health actors, most notably the Council of Europe. This illustrates both the significance of scientific uncertainty in the investigation of risk, and the difficulty for risk managing institutions in effectively acting in the face of this uncertainty.
    Science in Context 09/2014; 27(3):511-29. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000167
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    ABSTRACT: ArgumentThe Uppsala school in separation science, under the leadership of Nobel laureates, The (Theodor) Svedberg and Arne Tiselius, was by all counts a half-century-long success story. Chemists at the departments for physical chemistry and biochemistry produced a number of separation techniques that were widely adopted by the scientific community and in various technological applications. Success was also commercial and separation techniques, such as gel filtration, were an important factor behind the meteoric rise of the drug company Pharmacia from the 1950s. The paper focuses on the story behind the invention of gel filtration and the product Sephadex in the 1950s and the emergence of streamlined commercially oriented separation science as a main activity at the department of biochemistry in the 1960s. The dynamics of this development is analyzed from the perspectives of moral economy and storytelling framed by the larger question of the social construction of innovation. The latter point is addressed in a brief discussion about the uses of stories like the one about Sephadex in current research policy.
    Science in Context 06/2014; 27(2):249-74. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000064
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    ABSTRACT: In the 1920s there were still very few fossil human remains to support an evolutionary explanation of human origins. Nonetheless, evolution as an explanatory framework was widely accepted. This led to a search for ancestors in several continents with fierce international competition. With so little fossil evidence available and the idea of a Missing Link as a crucial piece of evidence in human evolution still intact, many actors participated in the scientific race to identify the human ancestor. The curious case of Homo gardarensis serves as an example of how personal ambitions and national pride were deeply interconnected as scientific concerns were sometimes slighted in interwar palaeoanthropology.
    Science in Context 06/2014; 27(2):359-83. DOI:10.1017/S0269889714000106