The Journey from Discovery to Scientific Change: Scientific Communities, Shared Models, and Specialised Vocabulary

Abstract

Scientific communities as social groupings and the role that such communities play in scientific change and the production of scientific knowledge is currently under debate. I examine theory change as a complex social interaction among individual scientists and the scientific community, and argue that individuals will be motivated to adopt a more radical or innovative attitude when confronted with striking similarities between model systems and a more robust understanding of specialised vocabulary. Two case studies from the biological sciences, Barbara McClintock and Stanley Prusiner, help motivate the idea that sharing of models and specialised vocabulary fill the gap between discovery and scientific change by promoting the dispersal of important information throughout the scientific community.

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Sarah Roe
Southern Connecticut State University

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