Hype, risk, modesty, and Frequently Asked Questions: opening up (new spaces in) science and closing down controversy?
Kaya Akyuz (University of Vienna)
Paper short abstract:
What do Frequently Asked Questions mean in science? How do they contribute to opening up science and closing down further debate at the same time? This paper considers FAQs as an unusual activity in science and tracks their role in the making and unmaking of social science genomics as a new field.
Paper long abstract:
The use of genomics techniques in quantitative social science research is a phenomenon of the post-genomics era; however, it is also a continuation of a long lasting and controversial relationship between biology and the social sciences. The incipient terms of sociogenomics, genoeconomics and genopolitics under the "social science genomics" umbrella reflect the possibility of new disciplinary formations as much as novel approaches to sociology, economics and political science, respectively. As part of these emergences, an unusual practice among scientists—producing lists of Frequently Asked Questions about research articles—marks the scientists' efforts towards an open social science genomics. This practice is tightly linked to the framing of hype and risk around social science genomics research and the broader controversy surrounding the scientists' efforts in ways that are both opening up this contested emerging field to broader communities and securing its future with a pursuit of epistemic modesty through answers to questions. In this paper, I track the use of FAQs in science and elaborate on what this practice means for different types of academic work. Furthermore, I consider FAQs as part of the multitude of practices of the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium to understand how opening up could also contribute to closing down, in this case the controversy surrounding genetics research into social outcomes and behavior.
- Conflict, dissolution, contest