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Accepted Paper:

Developing a reflexive approach to computational methods in science and technology studies  
Fiona Kinniburgh (Technical University of Munich) Nils Matzner (Technical University Munich) Silke Beck (TUM) Scott Frickel (Brown University) David Demortain (INRAE)

Short abstract:

This paper maps the current use of computational methods in STS, revealing limited adoption thus far. It suggests developing assemblages of methods where the productive effects of the combination of methods and data are reflexively discussed, developed, and put to work in research projects.

Long abstract:

There have now been multiple calls and propositions in social sciences writ large to connect the quantitative and qualitative, the computational and the ethnographic –– some specific to STS, others larger (Evans and Foster, 2019). Based on a bibliometric analysis of extant STS research, this paper maps the current use of computational methods in the field, revealing that only a limited set of computational possibilities have been embraced thus far. Given STS’s attentiveness to data in fields beyond itself, it is surprising that STS remains relatively disconnected from current developments in the computational field. Rather, these methods appear most prominently in journals catering to primary audiences beyond academic STS, extending into policy and communication domains.

Based on the prospects indicated in these papers and in ongoing discussions in our international research group meetings on computational methods in STS, we review potential avenues for computational methods to augment traditional methods used in STS. This paper suggests developing assemblages of methods where the productive effects of the combination of methods and data are reflexively discussed, developed, and put to work in research projects. We identify such possible productive effects and propose that such an approach allows for a more nuanced engagement with data and theory, facilitating a more responsive and impactful STS research agenda that can extend beyond academic boundaries as part of an engaged STS program.

Traditional Open Panel P162
Qualitative digital methods: transforming methodologies
  Session 1