Ritson (2016)

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Ritson, Sophie. (2016) ‘Crackpots’ and ‘Active Researchers’: The Controversy Over Links Between arXiv and the Scientific Blogosphere. Social Studies of Science 46 (4), 607-628.

Title ‘Crackpots’ and ‘Active Researchers’: The Controversy Over Links Between arXiv and the Scientific Blogosphere
Resource Type journal article
Author(s) Sophie Ritson
Year 2016
DOI 10.1177/0306312716647508
Journal Social Studies of Science
Volume 46
Number 4
Pages 607-628

Abstract

Controversies over string theory (collectively termed the ‘string wars’) intensified in 2005. Also in that year, the open-access preprint publisher arXiv instituted a new feature called a ‘trackback’. This new feature enabled authors of blog posts discussing a paper on arXiv to leave a trackback (a link) to the post on the paper’s abstract page on arXiv. The determination of which specific bloggers would have access to the feature generated a public controversy that was played out in the blogosphere. Although the community was in almost unanimous agreement that so-called ‘crackpots’ should not have access to the trackback feature, it was unable to reach a consensus as to how to define a ‘crackpot’ or an ‘active researcher’. Blogs may provide a window into science in the making, yet this study shows that blogs confound categorization as permanent or ephemeral scholarly communication. The trackback feature was originally conceived to develop certain blog discourse as an alternative or complementary form of peer review. However, the high-energy physics community as a whole questions the ongoing function of the blog.

Contributors

Hakob Barseghyan (100.0%)