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Accepted Paper:

Translating between transparent and opaque surfaces. Media, tools and practices of scientific data collection in the field  
Jana Thierfelder (University of Bern)

Paper short abstract:

Tools for visualisation are widespread for data collection in the sciences as well as in the humanities. Yet, these tools are employed differently, causing different ways of knowing and doing. This paper explores the relationship between media, tools, practices and the resulting kinds of data.

Paper long abstract:

During the process of scientific knowledge production, opaque as well as transparent surfaces are created. To examine this phenomenon and the related processes of data collection, an ethnographic study with evolutionary biologists has been carried out. Starting with analysing the partly manually performed practices during data collection in the field, like note-taking, drawing and video recording, the study aims to shed light on the transformations these data undergo from raw data to their presentation as scientific results in journals.

In this paper, it is first shown how the production of opaque and transparent surfaces of data relate to the different modes of observing and collecting. The role of the methods, tools and media employed are studied as well as the different steps of transformation from field-data into so called robust office-data. Secondly, the paper addresses how these surfaces act as thick and thin filters, what they help to filter out, what is added and what becomes visible through those transformations. Special attention is put on how these different kinds of data relate to and represent the researched and the researchers. It thirdly, allows drawing attention to the differences of data collection practices in the individual disciplines, namely natural sciences and social anthropology.

Lastly, this approach shall help to embark on a discussion on how the production of opaque surfaces, as I suggest it is the case in the case study, against transparent surfaces as they are more likely found in social anthropology, facilitate different ways of doing and knowing.

Panel Evid07c
Responsible documentation? III
  Session 1 Wednesday 31 March, 2021, -