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The Epistemology of Data-Intensive Science

Objective

"This project aims to develop a new ‘philosophy of data-intensive science’ that clarifies how research practices are changing in the digital age, and examines how this affects current understandings of scientific epistemology within the philosophy of science and beyond.

The scale of scientific data production has massively increased in recent times, raising urgent questions about how scientists are to transform the resulting masses of data into useful knowledge. A technical solution to this problem is offered by technologies for the storage, dissemination and handling of data over the internet, including online databases that enable scientists to retrieve and analyse vast amounts of data of potential relevance to their research. These technologies are having a profound effect on what counts as scientific knowledge and on how that knowledge is obtained and used. This is a step change in scientific methods, which scientists refer to as ‘data-intensive’ research.

Surprisingly, the characteristics and philosophical implications of this emerging way of doing science have not yet been extensively and systematically analysed. This project aims to fill this gap by combining the analytic apparatus developed by philosophers of science with empirical, qualitative methods used by social scientists to investigate cutting-edge scientific practices. Accordingly, Phase 1 of the project will investigate how the use of online databases is currently affecting research practices and outcomes in two areas: plant science and biomedicine. Phase 2 will then build on these empirical results to analyse how data-intensive methods challenge existing philosophical understandings of the epistemic role of data, theory, experiments and division of labour in science. Through the analysis of how these four key components, the PI will produce a systematic assessment of the implications of the rise of data-intensive research for how science is organised, conducted and assessed."
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Principal Investigator

Sabina Leonelli (Dr.)

Host institution

THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

Address

The Queen'S Drive Northcote House
Ex4 4qj Exeter

United Kingdom

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 1 046 000

Principal Investigator

Sabina Leonelli (Dr.)

Administrative Contact

Gaynor Hughes (Ms.)

Beneficiaries (1)

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THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 1 046 000

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 335925

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 March 2014

  • End date

    28 February 2019

Funded under:

FP7-IDEAS-ERC

  • Overall budget:

    € 1 046 000

  • EU contribution

    € 1 046 000

Hosted by:

THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

United Kingdom