Accepted Paper:

Exclusion through evaluation: Social scientists working in faculties of medicine  


Mathieu Albert (University of Toronto)
Elise Paradis (University of Toronto)

Paper short abstract:

While Canadian faculties of medicine promote interdisciplinarity, they predominantly assess social scientists and humanities scholars (SSH) with criteria suited for clinical research. This misalignment create frustration among SSH and have the effect of marginalising them.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores social scientists' and humanities (SSH) scholars' integration within the academic medical research environment. Two key questions guided our investigation: How do SSH navigate their career within an epistemic and evaluative culture that may be inconsistent with their own? What strategies do they use to gain legitimacy? The study builds on three concepts: decoupling, doxa, and epistemic habitus. Twenty-nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with SSH scholars working in 11 faculties of medicine across Canada. For most of our participants, moving into medicine has been a challenging experience, as their research practices and views of academic excellence collided with those of medicine. In order to achieve legitimacy more than half of our participants altered their research practices. This resulted in a dissonance between their internalized appreciation of academic excellence and their new, altered, research practices. Only six participants experienced no form of challenge or dissonance after moving into medicine, while three decided to break with their social science and humanities past and make the medical research community their new home. Our findings suggest scope conditions as a useful refinement to Lamont and colleagues' (2006; 2009) concept of cognitive contextualization. Cognitive contextualization refers to the process of suspending one's methodological preference within an interdisciplinary evaluation context in order to adequately assess research endeavors coming from various other disciplines. As we show in this paper, as faculties of medicine in Canada are dominated by an all-pervading biomedical worldview, they may not be conducive to such cognitive contextualization.

Panel T033
Who is in, who is out? Exploring collectives in health research