14 de mayo de 2021

CfP: Messiness in the production and operationalization of biomedical evidence (Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Special Issue)

We are soliciting papers for a special issue in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science on the topic “Messiness in the production and interpretation of biomedical evidence”. The special issue will be co-edited by Thomas Bonnin (Université Clermont-Auvergne) and Charlotte Brives (CNRS, Centre Emile Durkheim). 

Deadline for submissions: September 1, 2021.

The second half of the 20th century witnessed the rise of an experimental ideal in the production and interpretation of biomedical evidence. In this period, the emblematic randomized controlled trial rose to a hegemonic position. The practices and normative prescriptions of the Evidence-Based Medicine movement play an increasingly influential role beyond medicine, notably in policy evaluation. Social scientists (historians, sociologists, philosophers, STS scholars, anthropologists…) have documented the history, material and conceptual underpinnings, strengths and limits of these recent upheavals. This special issue is a novel contribution to this rich literature, through a focus on the notion of “messiness”. 

Messiness, at first sight, is an obstacle. It is something that needs to be tamed in order to successfully produce and interpret biomedical evidence. Can there be good clinical evidence about a “messy” disease? How to build operationalizable data with “messy” populations? This search for order and standardization is simultaneously risky. Achieving internal validity can trade-off with external validity, hence with a loss of relevance to real-world situations. It can also carry problematic assumptions and harness existing power relations. 

Messiness, then, can also be seen as something to be embraced, as a positive recognition of a pervasive complexity and relationality at play in medical practice. How to account for the complex dynamics of multi-scalar and multi-actor physiological processes? Is it possible to integrate multiple lines of evidence in a rigorously standardized way? Can there always be a tidy way to translate biomedical evidence into real-life applications? In this view, messiness is an asset to the creation and interpretation of biomedical evidence, a space of freedom to be exploited in a sea of methodological, material and regulatory constraints. 

In this issue, we propose an interdisciplinary exploration of the ambivalent nature of messiness in the creation and interpretation of biomedical evidence. We welcome contributions across the spectrum of the social sciences to create exchanges and confrontations of discipline-specific approaches, claims and concepts. The emphasis is on an analysis of case studies from 20th/21st-century biomedicine on the following topics: 

  • Sources and levels of messiness in the creation and operationalization of biomedical evidence. How and why is something considered messy/simple? 

  • When and why is messiness an asset/an obstacle to the creation and operationalization of biomedical evidence? 

  • Why is evidence needed? What is considered good evidence? What is this evidence good for? 

  • What tensions arise from the appropriation and valuation of biomedical evidence?

Please submit your paper via the Editorial Manager (VSI: Biomedical evidence), prepared for anonymous review by September 1, 2021.